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Export industry must be authority's focus

Gavan Herlihy National Agriculture Spokesperson

January 30 2002

Export industry must be authority's focus

National's agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy says the Government must ensure that legislation to create the new Food Safety Authority comes before the Primary Production Select Committee.

"We see the key reason for establishing the Food Safety Authority is to ensure that the excellent standards and integrity of our food exports - our economy's number one source of income - are maintained," he explained.

"It is, therefore, imperative that the Primary Production Select Committee gets to assess how the new agency will be set up, as it must not be allowed to be captured by factions focussed on narrow, domestic issues."

Mr Herlihy says because the $60 million Food Safety Agency will be responsible for setting and administering food safety regulations - from farm inputs right through to the ultimate customer - it is vital that export sector interests are to the fore.

"Reluctantly, we accept the Government's right to charge responsibility for the new body with Health Minister Annette King, instead of the already overburdened Agriculture and Trade Minister Jim Sutton," he added.

"However, we will not accept any loss of integrity the 'MAF brand' has garnered in the international market place for New Zealand's all-important food export sector - the backbone if this country's economy - over the past century."

Ends

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