May 26th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd still in front

EDITORIAL: East Timor: end of the Fretilin era?

HOUSING: Soaring house prices give illusion of wealth

LABOR PARTY: Sir Rod Eddington, Labor's business guru

PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Vital issues in wheat single-desk decision

OPINION: Family First takes on Howard's workplace laws

DRUGS CONFERENCE: Reality check needed on illicit drugs

SCHOOLS: Choice would be eroded by centralisation

INTELLIGENCE CORNER: Shssh - don't mention the war!

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Politics could worsen global health pandemic

QUARANTINE: Drought used as excuse to relax quarantine standards

STRAWS IN THE WIND: No kangaroo meat - thank you very much / Tony Blair - a class act / Vladimir the Cruel / Turkey - between a rock and a hard place

UNITED STATES: US Supreme Court bans partial-birth abortion

WORLD AFFAIRS: Islam: the questions which must be answered

States more accountable than Canberra (letter)

Problems facing Brisbane-to-Melbourne rail-link (letter)

News Weekly informative, timely (letter)

The media and freedom of speech (letter)

CINEMA: A luminous film of great beauty

BOOKS: WHAT'S LEFT? How Liberals Lost Their Way, by Nick Cohen

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Drought used as excuse to relax quarantine standards

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, May 26, 2007
Australia has sound reasons for continuing to bar apple imports from New Zealand and China, writes Patrick J. Byrne.

There have already been suggestions that, should the drought lead to higher food prices, Australia should weaken its quarantine rules to allow imports of products currently excluded from Australia.

Although recent rains will break the drought for many dry-land farmers, irrigation farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin will have a tense wait until about September before they know if there has been enough rain and snow to provide enough water for irrigation.

In anticipation of possible higher food price, a recent editorial in The Australian argued that there are no quarantine reasons to prohibit apple imports from New Zealand and China.

It said that NZ had become the world's second-largest apple exporter “without sowing a trail of pestilence among the nations that take its produce”.

NZ fire blight

In fact, NZ only sells apples to countries that have fire blight or that don't grow apples.

Meanwhile, only weeks ago, Taiwan suspended its imports of NZ apples because of the discovery of coddling moth in a NZ shipment.

Further, NZ has a native “wheat bug” which damages wheat crops. It has recently entered Belgium and Holland, believed to have been transmitted either on contaminated apples or packaging.

China's official stance is that they have no fire blight, but this is in dispute by other countries.

Last year, the US ceased importing Chinese pears because of exotic disease concerns. Australia is free of a number of other Chinese exotic pests such as a strain of the fungal disease, black spot.

- Patrick J. Byrne

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