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Pipfruit NZ Reaction to IRA Release

Pipfruit NZ Reaction to IRA Release.

The NZ pipfruit industry today expressed concern at the content of the long awaited Import Risk Analysis (IRA) draft from Biosecurity Australia.

“At long last we have a document to respond to, but our initial reaction is that Biosecurity Australia have largely ignored the findings of the WTO case between Japan and the USA in relation to fireblight,” Chief Executive Peter Beaven commented in Hastings today. “After seven years of fighting this is very disappointing outcome.”

“The protocol between Japan and the USA relates only to the definition of mature fruit, and New Zealand is currently negotiating with Japan for access on a similar basis,” Mr Beaven said. “It seems that Biosecurity Australia’s Risk Assessment Panel have ignored no less than three WTO decisions on this matter and left orchard inspections and chlorine treatment in water dumps as requirements for New Zealand supply.”

There are other protocols in relation to European Canker and apple leaf curling midge that have also been beefed up in the draft document. “We need to closely examine these and the science behind them before we make further comment,” Mr Beaven said. “However, on the face of it, significant regions of the NZ industry would be excluded from access.

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“The draft document is in three volumes and will take us a day or two to absorb fully.”

In the meantime, Pipfruit NZ has assembled a team of scientists, industry representatives and Biosecurity NZ personnel to work on a NZ response to the document. Biosecurity Australia is allowing until 31 March for submissions in response to the IRA draft. Biosecurity Australia’s Risk assessment Panel then considers all the submissions and writes up the final version of the IRA. This can still be the subject of appeal through the Australian courts. Other than the period for submissions, none of the steps in the process have any specified timeframe.

“Whatever happens, there will be no NZ apples available to the Australian consumer next year,” Mr Beaven said.

Mr Beaven also complimented the work of the NZ pipfruit industry for their efforts in keeping pressure on Biosecurity Australia during 2005. “I commend the action group AAAG and the many people in our industry who have worked so hard to lobby for this release. They deserved a better outcome.”

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