Wednesday 17 October 2012
SENATOR for Queensland Ron Boswell announced today that the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report into the effect of imported fresh pineapples from Malaysia on local growers will now be delayed until November 29.
The report has been delayed to allow the Committee to obtain independent analysis of the risk estimation matrix used by Biosecurity Australia in their decision-making regarding foreign imports.
The Risk Estimation Matrix used by DAFF Australia has been challenged following evidence provided at the Inquiry’s public hearing in Brisbane on August 6.
Mr Derek Lightfoot, the Managing Director of Tropical Pines in Yeppoon, provided evidence at the hearing that the risk estimation matrix used by DAFF Biosecurity is at odds with normal or standard matrices and that the risk matrix is biased towards results of low risk.
“It is vital that this risk estimation matrix is scrutinised as it is the basis of DAFF Australia’s decision to allow imports of not only pineapple, but also ginger and potatoes into Australia,” Senator Boswell said.
“The pineapple industry is under pressure and the last thing it needs is the threat of a devastating foreign disease because DAFF Biosecurity has incorrectly assessed the risk to be ‘low’.”
The Committee also received conflicting advice from a pineapple expert from the University of Hawaii, Mr Glenn Taniguchi and the Queensland Government that risk of disease was actually ‘moderate to high’.
“Never have Australia primary industries been under so much threat with the high Australian dollar and now the risk of introduced foreign diseases,” Senator Boswell said.
“The pineapple industry has already been decimated from 800 growers to only 80 growers and the last thing they need is the threat of disease from overseas that could have devastating economic consequences.”
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