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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 104

(Question No. 4979)

Mr Hunt asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 28 November 1986:

(1) Does scientific evidence prove that the Australian and US strains of Septoria spot of citrus are the same; if not, what research is being undertaken to determine the exact relationship between the strains.

(2) If the strains of Septoria spot are the same, what evidence is there to support this.

(3) Will he suspend the importation of fresh citrus fruit from the USA until scientific research conclusively establishes the relationship between Australian and US strains of Septoria spot; if not, why not.

Mr Kerin —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Investigations undertaken in Australia and New Zealand indicate that the Australian and US isolates of Septoria belong to one and the same species. However US authorities feel that further investigations are necessary to confirm this. Currently US and Australian plant pathologists are collaborating on definitive research which is expected to be completed by mid 1987.

(2) The Australian view is that the disease in the two countries is caused by one species of Septoria is based on microscopic examination of specimens. This view has been confirmed by cultural, morphological and biochemical tests conducted recently by the Victorian Department of Agriculture.

(3) There are no sound scientific reasons to suspend importation of US citrus because of Septoria. Imports from Florida area prohibited for a different reason. In August 1984 citrus canker was detected in that state and a prohibition was immediately imposed to prevent introduction of this serious disease.

I should mention that Septoria spot is not the only reason for the US prohibition on entry of Australian citrus. Black spot and Australian citrus scab are not present in the US and are additional reasons for the US prohibition.