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Quarantine lifted on vineyards

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The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has lifted quarantine orders imposed three years ago on over 40 vineyards after clearing them of any exotic disease contamination, the Minister for Resources, Mr Alan Griffiths, said today.

The properties, in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory, were quarantined in April 1988 when they were found to be growing varieties of table grapes which had not entered Australia through normal quarantine channels.

The quarantine restrictions applied only to the grape vines, and meant they could not be removed from the properties while tests were conducted to determine whether they carried any exotic diseases. The fruit from these vines was not affected by the

quarantine orders as it does not carry the diseases.

Mr Griffiths said that exhaustive tests had found no evidence of exotic disease, although vines from several properties were found to carry a number of serious endemic diseases. These include leafroll, fleck, grapevine yellow speckle and stempitting. The exotic diseases tested for include black rot, bacterial blight and Pierce's disease.

Mr Griffiths said AQIS had quarantined the properties to protect Australia's multiĀ­ million dollar table-grape, dried fruits and wine industries from a possible exotic disease outbreak.

"As AQIS was unsure of the origins of these vines, it was also unsure of their disease status, and the quarantine restrictions were imposed with the support of all industry organisations," he said.

"The lifting of the restrictions means that, as far as quarantine is concerned, the vines can now be legitimately traded, although there are still some problems concerning patent ownership of some of the varieties."

Mr Griffiths said the varieties include Sugarone, Red Globe, Centennial Seedless and some others which have not yet been identified.

He said that although the quarantine restrictions have been lifted, investigations are continuing into how the vines entered Australia.

Further information: Don Gumming (06) 272 5500 (w) 231 0876 (h)

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: (06) 2777480 Fax: (06)2734154