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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5984


Dr STONE ( Murray ) ( 18:19 ): Minister, when I asked about exceptional circumstances and the pilot in Western Australia and particularly in Victoria, I was referring to EC category D, which is for those affected by devastating floods. We have two problems. Firstly, we have a tale of lack of financial viability still existing because of the drought. After the first rains, unfortunately, your productivity does not instantly return and your bank account does not instantly return to being in the black. What is the status for the EC category D now in Victoria? We understood there were some announcements, but I am wondering: when is the cash going to flow and what is the process for affected farmers to access that funding?

The other matter was in relation to Biosecurity Australia and the New Zealand fresh apple protocols. You said in your answer that Biosecurity Australia was simply doing a review in the wake of the WTO decision. We understand why and how the rejections of our previous protocols occurred. The problem is that the Australian apple and pear industry—and 80 per cent of all pear growers are in the electorate of Murray—have been told that the New Zealand pip fruit industry's domestic protocols are to be adopted and used for the Australian export protocols and that these domestic pip fruit industry measures will be supervised by MAF, the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. MAF was, as we all know, implicated in the fire blight contamination of a cotoneaster all those years ago at the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. There is not great trust when it comes to depending on another country's ministry to inspect product. We need to know if it is the case in New Zealand that fire blight is a notifiable disease—it seems to be difficult to find that out—because that makes it much more difficult for us to accept a domestic protocol if a region cannot be shown to have had fire blight in recent times.