by News WeeklyNews Weekly
Senate inquiry attacks NZ apple import proposal
, March 10, 2001
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee has indicated that it will come down strongly against Biosecurity Australia and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service recommendation to allow imported apples from fire blight-affected New Zealand.
Committee Chairman, Winston Crane, recently told the Weekly Times that the Import Risk Analysis (IRA) on NZ apples was "just too inconclusive and conflicting. It's early days but I thing it's very clear at this stage, we adopt the precautionary principle."
Another committee member, Julian McGauran, said that the science behind the IRA was unconvincing and the risks too great.
Parliament Secretary for the Environment, Sharman Stone, also attacked the IRA for ignoring the threat to indigenous species and cereals crops from eight or nine other pests that could also gain entry with NZ apples.
Australia's leading expert on fire blight, Dr Satish Wimalajeewa, told the Senate inquiry that the Goulburn Valley in central Victoria, which produces 90% of Australia's pears, had a climate similar to that of California's Sacramento Valley. The latter's pear industry was virtually wiped out by fire blight last century.