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Kiwi fruit bacterial canker



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

Kiwi Fruit Bacterial Canker

09/11/10

The Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, John Cobb, today said that the Labor Government must immediately suspend all imports of Kiwi fruit from countries where the bacterial canker is evident after the reported outbreak of the disease in a New Zealand orchard.

“The bacteria PSA has reportedly been discovered in a New Zealand orchard in the Bay of Plenty and there are possible links with the New Zealand outbreak and the Italian strain,” Mr Cobb said.

“Bio-security Australia must move immediately to protect the domestic industry and provide assurances that the Australian domestic production remains disease free and will not be affected by the reported outbreak in New Zealand.

“The canker PSA which we are dealing with is spread by wind, bees and poor agricultural hygiene and severely attacks the vines and leaves of Kiwi fruit.

“The importation of Kiwi fruit plants into Australia is already banned, however there is no science which shows the fruit itself cannot carry the disease, this is why we need to take action now to ensure our domestic industry is protected.

“While I feel for New Zealand and Italian producers, my primary concern is to ensure the Australian Kiwi industry remains disease free and Australian producers can continue to provide prime, quality fruit to Australian consumers.

“A shipment of Kiwi fruit from Italy is due in Australia in a matter of days and it is crucial that the Minister for Agriculture takes urgent action before this shipment arrives and puts Australia’s domestic industry at risk,” Mr Cobb said.

Australia produces around 6000 tonnes annually of Kiwi fruit almost exclusively for the domestic market with imports making up any supply shortages. 60% Kiwi fruit is grown in the Goulburn, Ovens and Murray in north-eastern and central Victoria with 20% and 12% grown in NSW and Queensland respectively.

This disease is already a problem in Japan and Korea and a more virulent form has severely damaged Italy’s gold Kiwi fruit crop. Reports claim that approximately 25 percent of vines were affected by PSA in Italy in 2009.