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Apple growers vent frustration at Prime Minister

Media Release
July 8, 2005

Apple growers vent frustration at Prime Minister

Insulted apple growers vented their frustration at New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark today following her statement earlier this week that the Australian apple access issue was over.

In protesting at Helen Clark’s visit to the Hastings Grey Power meeting, apple growers snubbed Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton’s address at a Pipfruit New Zealand special general meeting held at the same time in Havelock North – only five minutes drive from Hastings.

Australian Apple Action Group spokesman John Bostock said growers have been insulted by the government on two occasions in the last two weeks.

Firstly by Mr Sutton not meeting New Zealand apple growers at the protest march in Wellington late last month and secondly by Helen Clark’s public statement earlier this that the apple issue was over.

This was following Foreign Minister Phil Goff’s meeting with his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer over the weekend. Mr Goff has claimed that the issue will be dealt with “soon”

“We want answers – the government doesn’t want this as an election issue, while they are being fooled by their Australian counterparts that this will be resolved soon.

“It’s no consequence that both Helen Clark and Jim Sutton are in Hawke’s Bay at the same time,” Mr Bostock said.

Today’s protest march started at the Hastings New World and headed through the Hastings CBD before stopping at the Grey Power meeting at St Andrews Hall.

Apple growers are leading a consumer led boycott against Australian fresh produce.

Mr Bostock said several questions were put to both Ms Clark and Mr Sutton at the meetings in regard to the progress they are making in discussions with their Australian counterparts.

Australia has not set for the release of the draft Import Risk Analysis and there is still a four further steps in the process with no fixed timeframe.

“At any stage Australia can employ its famous delaying tactics,” Mr Bostock said.

The process includes:

Once the draft IRA is released, there are a further sixty days given for submissions
The Risk Analysis Panel then considers these submissions under no fixed timeframe,
Once this is complete the Final IRA is then released
And then there is the right of appeal to the High Court.

“Prime Minister we regret that you may be being naïve – is there something you know that we don’t? Please enlighten us,” he said.

Mr Bostock added that the advice growers had received from Australian advisers was that if we want to gain access for our apples the best chance we have is if our politicians fight for us.

“Why is it then, that you are leaving it up to New Zealand growers to embarrass Australia in the public and international arena?


Ends

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