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NZ Apple Growers Declare War to End Australian Ban

Media Release
May 27, 2005

New Zealand Apple Growers Declare War to End Australian Ban

New Zealand apple growers have declared war to win access for apples to Australia.

A nationwide group of apple growers charged with taking on Australia warned today of protest action and boycotts throughout New Zealand and possibly even Australia would start next month.

A massive grower led protest march to New Zealand Parliament House and the Australian High Commission in Wellington will be held on June 22.

Action Group member John Bostock said apple growers throughout New Zealand are building an army and are urging the New Zealand public to show their support by not buying Australian fresh produce.

“New Zealand imports Australian tomatoes, melons, pineapples and other products and yet we can’t ship our apples to Australia,” Mr Bostock said.

“To help win we need the New Zealand public on our side. Australia will not listen to us on our own.”

“Consumer choice is our greatest weapon. We are asking all Kiwi’s to make a stand by choosing not to buy Australian fresh fruit and vegetables.”

“As part of this we are also asking supermarkets to voluntarily stop stocking Australia fresh produce.

“We need to hurt Australian industries such as tomatoes, melons, grapes and grain industries so they understand what it’s like to be shut out of a market and the impact on their livelihoods.

“The Australian public also needs to know they are not getting a good deal and are being served up old fashioned and poor quality apples. New Zealand growers can offer a choice of new and exciting varieties offered a range of taste profiles”.

Mr Bostock said Parliament and the Australian High Commission will be hit from two fronts with growers, other industry representatives and public supporters travelling by ferry from the South Island and by steam train from Hawke’s Bay.

“To have maximum impact we need to harness all in the industry - service providers, stakeholders, shipping companies, packers and supporters, as well as other industries that have a problem with Australian access.

Australia has blocked New Zealand apples for 85 years citing the fear of the bacterial disease fireblight as the reason.

However last year the World Trade Organisation ruled on scientific evidence that mature apples do not carry the disease.

The prize is worth fighting for, Mr Bostock said. Australia currently eats only 9kg of apples per person – the lowest in the western world – compared with New Zealanders who eat 18kg per person.

“With our quality and reasonable price, we can move Australian consumption to 14kg per person”.

The issue of access for New Zealand apples has continued to be a major problem in the CER framework and growers intend to make it the number one bilateral trade issue between NZ and Australia.

Fellow action group member Phil Alison said growers want the New Zealand Government and officials to take a tougher stance against what they see as Australian bullying and lack of fair play.

"It's beyond a joke, it's time for action.

Mr Alison said growers found it "abhorrent and ridiculous" that Australia chaired the Cairns Group of nations supporting free trade.”

"They are telling the rest of the world they should have free trade for agricultural produce.

"New Zealand should not support their chairmanship or even their membership."

Ends

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