Today is a sad day for Australian apple and pear growers as the first shipment of New Zealand apples destined for Australia left today following the Federal Government's agreement to provide a permit for their importation, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.
"There is no doubt that fire blight will come to Australia; the question of whether or not it will spread remains hotly contested and history shows that a disease free country like Australia is likely to lose that status over time.
"At the very time when disease free status is a critical and bankable asset we are seeing that status put in jeopardy because of the WTO rules and Australia's loss to New Zealand in that forum.
"Australia's refusal to review the nexus between free trade and the need to fund highest standards of biosecurity remains an ongoing problem not only for apples, but for every agricultural commodity as other countries seek to open our markets under the provisions of negligible risk.
"Tasmania must do all it can to maintain disease free status on our island as we did in the case of Canadian salmon, and the Greens will do everything in our power to facilitate that happening," Senator Milne said.
Senator Milne spoke in parliament yesterday on apple imports, free trade and food security. Her speech can be accessed through this link: