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Cyclone Yasi's devastation of banana crop is no excuse for allowing Filipino imports



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Media Contact: Greg Pierce Coffs Harbour: 02 6652 6233 Canberra: 02 6277 4447 Mobile: 0408 532 785

Email: greg.pierce@aph.gov.au

February 4, 2011

Cyclone Yasi’s devastation of banana crop is no excuse for allowing Filipino imports The Gillard Government should not use Cyclone Yasi’s devastation of banana crops as an excuse to permit the importation of Filipino bananas, Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said today.

Mr Hartsuyker was commenting on media reports that Filipino banana exporters were moving to exploit the misfortunes of North Queensland banana growers whose crops have been wiped out by the cyclone.

“There is absolutely no excuse for the Gillard Government to allow bananas to be imported from the Philippines,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Although there will be a short-term shortage of Australian bananas, we should be doing everything we can to get these farmers back in production.

“The risks associated with Filipino bananas are as relevant today as they were before Cyclone Yasi. It is essential that Australia remains free of exotic diseases such as Moko, Black Sigatoka and Freckle which are prevalent in Philippine bananas.

“Australia invests millions of dollars in quarantine and disease control every year. Allowing the Philippine banana into Australia will jeopardise the value of that investment and in my view is not worth the risk.

“After Cyclone Larry there was a shortage of bananas but the Howard Government rejected calls for overseas imported to be permitted. The Gillard Government should reassure the Australian industry by ruling out any relaxation of the quarantine guidelines.

“Unless the Government stands behind the Australian banana industry, many growers may walk off their farms and not replant. This would have a devastating impact on the North Queensland economy and raise more concerns about our nation’s food security.”

Mr Hartsuyker said the Gillard Government had left the door open for Filipino banana imports after Biosecurity Australia gave conditional approval to imports in 2009.

“The reality is that there are no guarantees the conditions placed on banana imports will ensure our own industry is protected from disease.

“With local banana prices set to rise, the Philippine banana exporters see an opportunity to make a quick buck whilst our farmers struggle to rebuild their livelihoods.

“At this most difficult time we must stand by Australian growers and help the industry to fully recover from this devastating event.”

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