Tasmanian attempt to ban New Zealand apples

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th August 2011

The State of Tasmania is seeking to maintain import restrictions on New Zealand apples. The move comes despite the fact that regulator Biosecurity Australia yesterday gave the green light to the importation of New Zealand apples into Australia.

Last year, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) found Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine standards stopping New Zealand apples exported to Australia to be in breach of WTO rules.

In a statement passed on to Australian Food News, the Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings said, “The Tasmanian Government has had a strong record on pushing a very hard case with the Commonwealth around protecting the biosecurity measures here in Tasmania.

“We don’t have fire blight here in Tasmania. Our disease-free status has been very important in terms of the Tasmanian brand and in terms of giving confidence to our international markets and customers in places like Japan. It is absolutely critical that we protect our borders from the invasion of any pests or diseases that could undermine our reputation.

“We will be exploring all of our powers to protect the biosecurity of Tasmania. We have a very strong border protection system here in terms of biosecurity, helped by our island status. We believe it’s worth protecting, not just for Tasmania’s sake, but for Australia’s sake.”

Constitutional law issue

Australian food law expert Joe Lederman of the FoodLegal firm believes the proposed ban could create a Constitutional Law test case for the High Court of Australia if the Tasmanian government persists with its ban.

Mr Lederman said, “There are Constitutional Law difficulties for a State to maintain a ban if it contravenes WTO treaty obligations to which the Australian government is a signatory.

‘Aussie apples’

Meanwhile, in a fightback against the apple import trade, Australian growers are mounting a strong marketing campaign for locally grown apples with an ‘Aussie Apples’ sticker. The aim of the campaign is to make it easier for consumers to identify and buy Australian-grown apples in supermarkets or greengrocers.

The ‘Aussie Apples’ sticker system is being implemented with funding from Horticulture Australia Limited, the national horticultural research development and marketing organisation, on behalf of the apple growers.