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Minister must up his game to secure meat exports

Damien O’Connor

Spokesperson for Primary Industries

7 July 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT

Minister must up his game to secure meat exports

The lag in communication between Chinese authorities and Government Ministers responsible for ensuring a secure passage for our meat exports is concerning, says Labour’s spokesperson for Primary industries Damien O’Connor.

“A new set of rules for meat exports to China, introduced following the latest shipment hold-up in Dalian, could have serious ramifications for the industry.

“If the Chinese require the veterinarian certification of all meat, the Government may have to reverse its programme of deregulation for meat inspection in freezing works across the country.

“This is our most important growth market and the new Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and his new super ministry are failing in their duty to nurture and build it. If they don't sort this quickly our advantage through our early Free Trade Agreement with China will be lost to our competitors.

“The fact is, despite numerous assurances that the meat trade is secure, delays are becoming increasingly common. Mr Guy can talk all he likes about our ‘successful trading relationship’ with China, but until he gets advice of delays ahead of time, the relationship will be seen as a work in progress.

“How many new certification processes can the industry expect this year and what can the industry expect from new meat access negotiations due to be discussed by officials next week?

“Government ministers have once again given only vague and timid excuses for the latest meat holdup, frustrating those whose business relies on absolute efficiency.

“There is much more going on here than the Minister is prepared to say. He has blamed his officials, dumped on his new Ministry system and used the Food Safety Authority as a crutch, but still we find shipments blocked at the border. The Minister needs to make sure he has the confidence of Chinese authorities,” Damien O’Connor said.

ENDS

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