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Truss must stop banana import assessment.



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Gavan O'Connor MP MEMBER FOR CORIO SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES

13 May 2004

TRUSS MUST STOP BANANA IMPORT ASSESSMENT.

The Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, now has no choice but to stop the risk assessment of the Philippine application to export bananas to Australia following evidence by a member of the Government’s own expert panel to a Senate committee.

Mr Bob Paton from NSW Agriculture told the committee there was no consensus in relation to the contents of the draft Import Risk Assessment.

He said he did not support the management option of limiting the distribution of imported bananas to southern Australia proposed in the draft report and had a number of other concerns about its contents.

This casts serious doubt on the claim made before the committee on 8 March by the Executive Manager of Biosecurity Australia, Ms Mary Harwood, that: “Everyone agreed with the report and with its release”.

It is alarming to say the least that the Minister was happy to allow the perception that the conclusions reached in this report were backed unanimously by the expert panel when that was clearly not the case.

The committee has already taken evidence from another member of the expert panel, Mr David Peasley who raised serious concerns about the process.

Two other key panel members from Queensland, Dr Rob Allen and Dr Brian Cantrell, did not sign off on the report.

This risk assessment process is now totally discredited and must be abandoned.

Contact Gavan O’Connor on 0418 518 528 Bernie Eades on 0419 664 016