Home' Grower : September 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower – September 2011
out to dry
decision to approve export per-
mits for NZ apples to Australia
was made last month.
“Apple and Pear Australia Ltd
has also worked pretty hard to
prove that bacteria could sur vive
in a viable state inside the calyx
(opening visible after flowering
and from where fruit grows) and
therefore if it stays within the
mature fruit,” Mr Cramond said.
“But the science is still incon-
clusive. The question remains –
do you take low, acceptable risk
as good enough. Obviously, BA
does. The matrix they use is
fundamentally floored because
they are looking for trade over
“The inspection regime is not
strong and we are talking mil-
lions of fruit. It doesn’t matter if
you believe the likelihood of the
bacteria entering on trash is low
or high – the acceptable risk fac-
tor is there, and it only needs a
small amount of bacteria to cre-
ate a massive problem.”
While Independent Senator
Nick Xenophon continues push-
ing for legislation to apply strict
quarantine measures to all food
import permits and Federal
Opposition agriculture shadow
minister John Cobb has prom-
ised to introduce a bill to ramp-
up BA protocols, the reality is
that NZ apples are already on
Australian supermarket shelves.
Nick Xenophon has
accused Biosecurity Australia of
driving the first nail into the
coffin of national food security
by allowing New Zealand apples
into the country.
He says the precedent set last
week will come back to haunt
politicians and bureaucrats who
have put free trade before strict
As the dust settled on a deci-
sion most industr y players
believed had left BA isolated and
weak, Sen Xenophon said com-
modity groups should be wor-
ried about its long-term ramifica-
“It’s about drawing a line in the
sand,” he said. “This is the worst
decision the Gillard government
has made, and the precedent
could spark a chain reaction if
free trade fundamentalists are
allowed to have their way.
“The potato industr y is worried
and I think the beef and pork sec-
tors should be looking very care-
fully at the BA decision.”
Rivercorp Land & Water chief
executive Fergus McLachlan,
whose company has established
105 hectares of organically-
grown apples at Nangwarr y
Station, in the Lower South
East, says acknowledging accept-
able risk to lower quarantine
protocols is a complete sell-out.
“I really don’t think people
realise how bad it will be if fire-
blight gets into Australia. From
commercial operations to back-
yard apple and pear trees – there
is no defence,” he said.
With a $12-million investment
in the SE orchards and another
142ha of traditionally-grown
apples at Loxton, Rivercorp has
a lot at stake.
But Mr McLachlan says the
entry of NZ apples to Australia
also makes a mockery of the
level playing on which free trade
has been promoted.
“We have to fumigate fruit that
goes into Western Australia, but
these imported apples will be
accepted after basic orchard
inspection – in NZ,” he said.
“I believe in free trade, and a
level playing field. But
Washington State subsidises its
apple industry and (if a precedent
is set), they could be the next
exporting to Australia. What
then? Brazilian and Argentinian
beef with foot-and-mouth?
“I don’t understand why you
would want to run the risk.”
■ Cost-sharing or nothing
■ Review of protocols unlikely
■ Low risk unacceptable
☛ AT A GLANCE
Fireblight may spell total ruin
ROHAN Gilmour (pictured) grows
20 per cent of the State’s pears,
but if fireblight takes a grip in
his orchards, he will bulldoze the
lot and walk away.
That is the extent of his
disillusionment with Biosecurity
Australia’s announcement last
week to permit the import New
Zealand apples to Australia.
“The underlying fact is that if
fireblight gets into this country, it
will spread rapidly – and pears
are most susceptible,” he said.
“It happened in California – we
could not survive it.”
Mr Gilmour, whose family has
40.5 -hectares at Paracombe, in
the Adelaide Hills, producing
4500 bins annually, said if his
business was destroyed by
fireblight, 12 full-time employees
– rising to 30 at the height of the
season – would be without jobs.
“You just can't turn around and
start again – it would take seven
years to get the trees to
commercial production,” he said.
“And if it becomes endemic, we
could get it again.”
Mr Gilmour said it was beyond
comprehension that Australia
had allowed NZ apples into
“It’s like giving away 25 per
cent of your business,” he said.
“And the government that’s
supposed to be protecting us is
Gilmours Orchards grows 12
varieties of pears and supplies
the bulk of its fruit to Foodland.
‘trade’ on Aust quarantine
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