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Australian honey imports temporarily suspended

18 December 2006

Australian honey imports temporarily suspended

As a result of a decision today by the High Court, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand has temporarily suspended imports of honey from Australia. The Court injunction was sought by the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand which is challenging Biosecurity New Zealand’s recently introduced import health standard allowing honey and related bee products to be imported from Australia.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand Policy Director Douglas Birnie said the suspension was temporary until the substantive case around a point of law over the risk assessment of introducing new organisms is heard by the Court on 19 February 2007.

“The suspension means any honey arriving from Australia cannot be imported, so consequently further consignments of honey from Australia will be denied clearance. We are contacting Australian authorities to inform them of the suspension.”

Douglas Birnie said MAF Biosecurity New Zealand was disappointed by the suspension of the import health standard. Preparation of the standard had involved over five years work, three consultation rounds with affected parties and peer reviews by both domestic and international bee disease experts.

“New Zealand has an international reputation for being extremely rigorous when making decisions on biosecurity and our risk mitigation measures for honey imports are consistent with measures applied to the importation of other products which could affect New Zealand’s primary industries, such as dairy and meat.”

He said MAF Biosecurity New Zealand has spent more time on this issue than most others. “We remain very concerned about the implications of this case on our ability to make timely and rigorous decisions across the wide spectrum of products and risks we face. We have considered appealing even this interim injunction but decided against it in light of the short time frame between now and the substantive hearing.


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