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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8587

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (13:53): Labor is a blight on Australia's apple industry. The government's rollover to allow the importation of apples from New Zealand opens the way for fire blight to become rampant in this country. At present Australia is fire blight free. At present New Zealand has the disease and it is not notifiable. Already seven permits have been issued for the importation of New Zealand apples. Four packing houses have been registered over the past 10 or so days. Kiwi apple growers have wasted no time. Already New Zealand apples are on their way.

Labor has sold out yet another proud, sustainable, viable Australian industry and placed the apple reliant town of Batlow in the Riverina at grave risk. When, not if, there is an outbreak of fire blight in Australia and it takes hold it will be on the heads of all those on that side who capitulated and did not make the protocols tough enough. Once it is here it will be all but impossible to eradicate. If we must allow New Zealand apples into Australia, it should based on quarantine not on trade.

Next Monday, 22 August, the shadow minister for agriculture and food security will introduce the Quarantine Legislation Amendment (Apples) Bill 2011 to safeguard against fire blight. Government members would do well to support this measure for the sake of regional Australia, for the sake of the environment and for the sake of our nation's economy.