You may have heard that Australia has been forced to allow the import of New Zealand apples despite the New Zealand apples containing disease.
Well Tasmania is now considering imposing a ban all by itself. This risks the wrath of the Commonwealth Government and the New Zealand government.
In 2000 Tasmania managed to impose a ban by itself when raw Canadian salmon was allowed to be imported. Hopefully Tasmania can stand strong again this time.
From The Mercury…
The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Tasmanian apple growers, the Tasmanian Liberals and the Australian Greens all believe it is a matter of when, not if, contagious fire blight will arrive along with the imported produce.
Fire blight can destroy an entire orchard in just one growing season.
NZ apples have not been brought into Australia for 90 years but the World Trade Organisation has ruled that Australia’s importation stance was not backed up by science.
Mr Green said Tasmania would maintain its prohibition on the importation of apples from fire blight-affected regions, including New Zealand, while it sought extra information from Biosecurity Australia to allow a proper analysis of what the Commonwealth decision would mean for this state.
The Tasmanian Liberals said Mr Green should have been negotiating with his federal counterparts months ago.
Premier Lara Giddings yesterday said she supported standing alone but the Federal Government has already warned the state could be penalised for doing so.
Ms Giddings said Tasmania’s disease-free status gave international markets and customers confidence in the food produced here and it was critical the state protected its borders from the invasion of any pests or diseases which could undermine its reputation.
“We will be exploring all of our powers and what measures we do have to protect the biosecurity of Tasmania. We have had to fight this fight before and we are prepared to take this fight up again,” she said.
TFGA chief executive Jan Davis says it will be difficult, but not impossible, for Tasmania to maintain its position on apples, as it did with salmon.
Ms Davis said fire blight was endemic in New Zealand and was treated with a human antibiotic Streptomycin which was not permitted to be used in Australia.
Currently, the state has no weapons up its sleeve to fight the disease if it takes off.
“This is a major biosecurity risk and the TFGA fully supports a call for Tasmania to stand up and protect itself,” Ms Davis said.
“The only way to prove if fire blight will take off in Tasmania is to let foreign apples in and then see if we can deal with it.
“If the Federal Government wants to make the rules it must bear the consequences of its decisions and provide recompense when it gets it wrong.”
The clean green image of Tasmania is vital to the State and personally I hope Tasmania can manage to maintain its ban on New Zealand apples.
Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle and any risk to Tasmania’s image and reputation is worth fighting for.
What do you think?