Ballarat potato growers unite against imported New Zealand potatoes
Ballarat potato growers and Parliamentary representatives from the Nationals gathered today in support of AUSVEG’s campaign to stop imported potatoes from New Zealand being sent to Australia for processing.
AUSVEG is campaigning against the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Biosecurity’s review into importation conditions for fresh potatoes from New Zealand and the genuine risk that these imported potatoes will bring with it both the Tomato Potato Psyllid and Zebra Chip disease.
“DAFF currently claim that they have taken into account all recent scientific evidence regarding the Zebra Chip disease and the Tomato Potato Psyllid. We’ve not only proven that to be wrong but have also shown that there are some substantial holes in DAFF’s reasoning,” said AUSVEG Public Affairs Manager William Churchill.
Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie and Victorian Nationals Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien MLC joined Ballarat Potato growers and AUSVEG to voice their concerns over the issue.
“The Government needs to intervene on this important issue to ensure the future of the 600 million dollar potato industry be put at risk”, said Senator McKenzie.
“Ballarat is a major potato growing area for Victoria and is a backbone to the local economy. If the Psyllid gets out into the Australian ecosystem Ballarat will be one of the areas that will feel it the most,” said Mr O’Brien.
AUSVEG launched its “Don’t Take the Risk” campaign on Monday with a video showing the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister and Trade Minister as babies and depicting them playing games with the industry.
“AUSVEG is calling for Ministerial intervention on this issue as the mounting evidence about DAFF’s Import Risk Analysis (IRA) and its scientific oversights continue to build,” said Mr Churchill.
“We don’t want to see a pest that has caused so much devastation in New Zealand cause the same amount of havoc here in Australia. The science shows that DAFF has made numerous scientific mistakes with its IRA and the economic consequences for these mistakes could be disastrous,” said Mr Churchill.
AUSVEG has made its scientific submission to the Department of Agriculture who are expected to respond by the end of the year.
Neither the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister nor the Trade Minister have responded to AUSVEG’s requests for their views on the issue.
MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill – Public Affairs Manager, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0411 166 748, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the “Don’t Take the Risk” video follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7jaNr34T_M