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Pig judgement exposes Government's quarantine incompetence.



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Gavan O'Connor MP MEMBER FOR CORIO SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES

30 May 2005

PIG JUDGEMENT EXPOSES GOVERNMENT’S QUARANTINE INCOMPETENCE

The flawed methodology used by the Howard Government in protecting Australian agriculture from exotic diseases was exposed in Friday’s Federal Court judgement on the importation of pig meat.

Labor has long been calling for a real shake up in Australia’s quarantine regime.

Last year a Senate Committee found flaws in the way the Howard Government assessed risks in relation to the importation of bananas from the Philippines and apples from New Zealand.

Now a Federal Court Judge has said that the Howard Government’s Import Risk Assessment (IRA) decision in relation to pig meat was unreasonable.

The judge was particularly critical of the way the Howard Government decides whether an activity is low risk or very low risk.

During the case, international experts criticised the methodology used by the Howard Government.

The Government has previously been warned of problems with this methodology in a number of Senate Committee reports.

Through its pig-headed refusal to admit it has been using a defective methodology the Howard Government has potentially exposed Australia to significant quarantine risks.

It’s time the Government swallowed its pride and wiped the slate clean on quarantine.

It’s time to adopt Labor’s suggestion of a full scale “Nairn” type review of the whole quarantine system.

If the present Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, can’t get the quarantine system right the perhaps its time the Prime Minister replaced him with someone who can.

Contact Gavan O’Connor on 0418 518 528

Bernie Eades on 0419 664 016