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Minister’s hands off approach hurting kiwifruit growers

Minister’s hands off approach hurting kiwifruit growers

Multimillion dollar claims filed this week against Zespri International Limited, by Shanghai Neuhof Trade Company and Shanghai Hui Zhang Logistic Limited, will hurt kiwifruit growers, ACT Primary Industry Spokesman Don Nicolson says.

“For almost two years,” says Mr Nicolson, “ACT has been calling on the Minister for Primary Industries to hold an independent inquiry into the behaviour of Zespri, which has experienced a run of negative press over its actions in Asia, the Serious Fraud Office inquiry, a conviction for smuggling and now a new Statement of Claim.

“Zespri shareholders and kiwifruit growers will now be faced with paying for even more legal costs and potentially more fines than they have had to endure so far,” says Mr Nicolson.

“Why the Minister is not willing to assert his powers after all the negative press is mysterious. Recently he acted promptly on an animal welfare issue citing reputational risk. The Zespri issues are reputational too.”

This would not be such an issue, says Mr Nicolson, if kiwifruit growers had the freedom to make their own export decisions. Unfortunately, they are forced to export via a state-sponsored monopoly that is bringing New Zealand’s reputation into constant disrepute.

“ACT contends that business with our largest trade bloc must be conducted in a scrupulous manner. By neglecting his duty to order an inquiry, the Minister’s expressed desire to maintain our reputation cannot be taken seriously.

“Enough is enough. Kiwifruit growers deserve better, and ACT wants the Minister to step in and get to the bottom of the issues at Zespri before they harm the industry even more,” Don Nicolson concluded.


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