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"Take Aussies To WTO" Says Eckhoff

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton should take a case to the World Trade Organisation over Australia’s continued determination to block imports of New Zealand fruit, ACT Agriculture Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.

He said he fully supported Mr Sutton’s view that conditions imposed on New Zealand apple imports were “unjustifiably restrictive.”

New Zealand attempts to import fruit into Australia have been frustrated for 78 years. New Zealand apples have been banned from Australia for fear they might carry fireblight disease.

Mr Eckhoff said he doubted if the Australian case was based on “any real scientific basis.”

“I agree with the Minister that the whole scenario is sad and disappointing but I think he should take a tougher stance and put the Australians up before the World trade Organisation,” he said.

“If we can take a case to the World Trade Organisation against the United States for restricting our lamb imports, why not Australia?” Mr Sutton said he would seek advice from officials and expert scientists before considering any further action. He said apple growers would be consulted as well.

“Growers have had enough of fudging and ‘diplo speak ‘, they want action now,” Mr Eckhoff said. “Australian fruit and vegetable growers have been benefiting from having access to New Zealand. All we want is the same break,” Mr Eckhoff said.


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