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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 195

(Question No. 920)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 30 May 1984:

(1) Is the import of pome and stone fruits, under Proclamation 20P, prohibited from any country where fireblight-Erwinia Amylovora-occurs; if so, why is a concession given to New Zealand for apples grown in districts in which fireblight does not exist subject to conditions set out in sub-regulation D of Regulation 21.

(2) What procedures are adopted to ensure that any import of apples from New Zealand are, in fact, free of fireblight, and are these procedures sufficient.

(3) Will the Government consider withdrawing this concession to New Zealand so that any risks that currently exist will cease?

Senator Grimes —The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Proclamation No. 20P prohibits the importation of stone and pome fruits from any country where fireblight-Erwinia amylovora-occurs. However, it exempts New Zealand apples from this prohibition providing Ministry of Agriculture officials certify the apples were grown in a district where fireblight does not occur.

The basis for this exemption is a widely accepted quarantine concept of certification that certain areas are free from designated pests or diseases. Essential prerequisites for this form of certification are reliable certifying authorities and sound scientific knowledge of the particular pest or disease.

(2) The distribution of fireblight in New Zealand is not known. Therefore Ministry of Agriculture officials cannot provide a certificate that certain districts are free from the disease. Consequently no New Zealand apples are presently imported into Australia.

(3) As no New Zealand apples are imported into Australia, there is no risk of introducing fireblight by this means.

Quarantine restrictions are subject to continuous review to take account of changing patterns of pest and disease occurrences and new scientific information on which risk assessments are made. No changes will be made to the present conditions for the importation of apples unless there are adequate safeguards to prevent the introduction of fireblight and other pests and diseases.