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Thursday, 16 June 2005
Page: 74

Mr BEAZLEY (Leader of the Opposition) (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. I refer the minister to yesterday’s decision by Mr Justice Murray Wilcox to set aside the decision by the Director of Quarantine to approve pig meat imports, and declare illegal any import licences issued in accordance with that decision. In the light of that decision, what action does the minister propose to take in relation to the existing pig meat import permits?

Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —Yesterday Mr Justice Wilcox made orders following on from his judgment of the previous week or so in relation to an appeal by Australian Pork Ltd concerning the import risk protocol for importing pig meat into Australia. In that particular judgment he made a number of statements and rulings which the government consider to be of considerable significance. We have indicated our intention to appeal that judgment. Yesterday the orders required the revocation of a permit issued to one particular company. That action will naturally be taken in accordance with the judge’s requirements.

Mr Justice Wilcox made no ruling in relation to the other 84 permits which are in place, and the legal advice that the government have received is that those permits can continue to operate and remain in force until they expire. Some of those permits are for around two years, but some of that time will have been used up. So there will be a capacity, on the basis of the legal advice provided to the government, for imports to continue on the basis of the other 84 permits until they expire. When they expire, on Mr Justice Wilcox’s ruling, they could not be renewed.

However, in making those comments, let me add that the government will be pursuing an appeal in relation to the basic nature of Mr Justice Wilcox’s decision, because of the significant implications of the decision for the administration of quarantine policy in Australia and other areas of administrative law.