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Government Inaction Frustrates Meat Industry

8 April 2002

"Two key pieces of legislation vital to protecting the integrity of New Zealand's billion-dollar food export industry are not being given the priority they deserve," says National's Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Mr Herlihy believes the Government has got its legislative priorities all wrong.

"It can find plenty of time to progress its social agenda by pushing through paid parental leave, but won't find a slot for legislation that ensures the security and integrity of our export-earning sector."

He says the Animal Products Amendment Bill was introduced to the House some weeks ago, but is still awaiting its first reading by Parliament.

"This legislation is necessary to extend the time available for meat exporters to lodge risk management programmes with MAF," Mr Herlihy explains.

"The Meat Industry Association is becoming increasingly concerned that if it does not become law on time, many companies exporting meat to key overseas markets could be without MAF certification."

Meanwhile, Gavan Herlihy says the legislation to establish a single food authority appears to have been torpedoed by the Green Party.

"Government announced late last year that the dual food safety system with exports handled by MAF and local the responsibility by the Ministry of Health, would be replaced by a single authority - independent from, but under the jurisdiction of MAF."

However, Mr Herlihy says having new the organisation up and running by July 1 - as mooted by the Government when it announced the new authority in February - now appears to be in jeopardy.

"I understand the Greens are now demanding a stand-alone organisation - reneging on their earlier support for the food safety authority and putting at risk the internationally recognised and accepted MAF brand.

"It's unacceptable that our food export sector - New Zealand's number one industry - should be held to ransom by political grandstanding and headline-grabbing antics from the Greens.

"The Government has lost control of its legislative agenda and needs to concentrate more on making laws that help - not penalise - the productive sector," Mr Herlihy concluded.

Ends

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