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Monday, 26 March 2001
Page: 25677

Mr Gibbons asked the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 20 February 2001:

Will any decision on the importation of apples and pears from New Zealand be taken only after the Senate inquiry into this matter has concluded.

Mr Truss (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

My Department is cooperating fully with the Committee's inquiry. However, the import risk analysis (IRA) on apples from New Zealand is being carried out in accordance with a science-based administrative process that is politically independent and was developed in consultation with stakeholders. The process is consistent with both government policy and Australia's international obligations.

Importation of pears is not being considered.

The draft IRA on New Zealand's application was released on 11 October 2000 and was open for public comment until the end of February 2001.

Before finalising its risk analysis, Biosecurity Australia will consider all comments received during this comment period and prepare a technical document for further discussion with key stakeholders. Due to the volume of submissions already received, a final IRA is not expected at least in the first half of 2001. My department has advised the Committee accordingly.

The report of the Committee is due by the end of March 2001. This timing will enable Biosecurity Australia to consider the report before finalising its IRA.