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Truss fails to ensure integrity of red meat exports.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND RESOURCES

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au

5 July 2002

TRUSS FAILS TO ENSURE INTEGRITY OF RED MEAT EXPORTS

Labor revealed today that meat from other countries has been sold in the international market place under forged Australian health certificates, and that it’s been happening for at least 18 months.

Mr Truss has confirmed in an answer to a question on notice that during the last 18 months, 233 metric tonnes of meat sold overseas was passed off as coming from Australia.

This illicit trade, and the associated risk of disease, could cost Australian rural industries billions in lost exports.

For example, if a shipment of beef contaminated with ‘Mad Cow’ disease were to find its way to the US or Japan under forged documentation, it could cast doubts over the system of certifying Australian export meat that could close those markets to us.

The fact that this practice has continued over such an extended period is yet another example of Mr Truss not doing his job properly.

It also appears that the quantity of meat sold under forged Australian health documentation referred to by Mr Truss, is only the amount actually identified by AQIS.

It is possible the volume of meat illegally passed off as Australian could be significantly higher.

Mr Truss also revealed that the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service [AQIS] has identified what he describes as ‘vulnerabilities in health certificates’.

The Minister must advise the Australian meat export industries when he first became aware of this ‘vulnerability’ in the system of health certification, when he acted to correct the problem and what action he has taken.

The integrity of the health certificate system is fundamental to the ongoing success of our agricultural export industry, yet Mr Truss has admitted that under his administration, not enough has been done to address this issue and protect Australian workers and farmers who rely on important export markets.

For Comment: Kerry O’Brien 03 6334 9366 or 0419 007 780 Jack Lake 02 6277 3843