15 April, 2010

Foreign apples put our local fruit industry at risk

15th April 2010

It comes as no surprise the World Trade Organization has finally dictated New Zealand apples must be allowed into our market, especially considering the consistent push by Bio Security Australia to bring us to this situation, despite repeated protests by local producers.

As outrageous as this decision is given the fact that it puts at risk an industry worth $50million locally and $500million nationally, it also raises a number of very important questions.

Producers have a right to know if the former and highly inadequate inspection guidelines stipulated by Biosecurity Australia,including the need for a single inspection of apples and the acceptance of apples harvested from trees actually showing signs of fireblight have been overturned in the interests of local producers' livelihoods.

Australians also have a right to ask why our politicians remain silent on an issue of national interest? Their silence is conspicuous and an insult to the efforts and diligence shown by regional Australians to create a successful industry with an enviable reputation as a clean green provider of high quality produce.

Their silence appears to speak volumes in regards to their penchant for economic rationalist dogma and their total disdain for their constituents.

Furthermore, can the government reassure local producers they will be compensated for any economic hardship encountered should their properties become infected due to this ridiculous decision? Perhaps they believe local taxpayers' will have no problem footing the bill to keep foreign producers happy, or alternatively producers are expected to pay higher insurance premiums to cover the expected loss?

Australian primary producers make an invaluable contribution to our nation's economy, through the millions in export dollars, the provision of employment and creation of regional businesses to the simple fact they feed our nation. For too long they have had their interests ignored and betrayed- perhaps this recent decision is an indication it is time for a change.

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