Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Burke has nothing to say about Chinese apples imports

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The Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, John Cobb has expressed concern that the Labor Party will soon be allowing fresh apples in from China.

Mr Cobb said he was not surprised the Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, has had nothing to say about the issue. This is the same Minister who was prepared to let beef in from countries which had had mad cow disease outbreaks, without demanding that a risk import analysis be undertaken, until pressure from the Coalition and the public forced him to back down.

“I am concerned about the veracity of the protocols when it comes to the disease status of the Chinese apple imports.

“The industry is concerned that the protocols could allow for nothing more than a paper trail inspection in China and are rightly demanding at the very least a physical inspection on the ground of all exporting farms by Biosecurity Australia officials.

Mr Cobb said he would be consulting with orchardists in his own electorate and around the country and will be doing everything he can to ensure that our country remains free of devastating diseases which could wipe out our apple industry.

“I am concerned that the major supermarkets will be salivating at the thought of getting cheap apples on their shelves, but I would ask them to remember that it is Australian producers who have provided them with a consistent, safe, top quality product."

Mr Cobb said the media release issued by Biosecurity Australia advises that; ‘Stakeholders may lodge an appeal in writing to the Import Risk Analysis Appeals Panel—a body independent of Biosecurity Australia. The panel has advised that any appeals must be received by 2 May 2010.’

Mr Cobb said it was important that all Australians were aware of where their food was coming from and urged anyone who was interested or concerned to contact the Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke’s office and appeal the decision.

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Productivity Commission Doesn't Always Get it Right

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The Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food Security, Fisheries and Forestry, John Cobb today backed his colleague Senator Barnaby Joyce and said the Productivity Commission does not always get it right.

Mr Cobb also took issue with Water Minister Wong’s comments today.

“Penny Wong has been the worst Minister in the Rudd Government – she is destroying the countries food security and livelihoods of the 2 million people who call the MDB home with her ‘no regrets’ water buy-back fiasco and made an absolute goose of herself and Kevin Rudd at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference where she needed over 114 bureaucrats to hold her hand and she still achieved nothing.

Mr Cobb said it was well known in Canberra that when Labor wants an excuse too cut funding for a program you got the Productivity Commission to do an inquiry.

“This has been particularly evident under the Rudd Labor Government, which is extremely quick to outsource Ministerial decision making to others and to blame everyone else when it goes pear shaped.

“You know when the Labor Government wants a review to recommend spending money on an industry – it gets any one but the Productivity Commission to do the review.

“For example, when the Government wanted to buy the car industry off, it got ex Victorian ALP Premier, Steve Bracks to do a review and up he jumps with a recommendation for a $6 billion rescue package, which was then adopted as ALP policy.

“But when it wants an excuse to screw funding out of an industry it orders the Productivity Commission to do the review.

“This has been extremely evident in the agricultural portfolio which has lost over a third of its funding since the Labor Government came to office.

“The Productivity Commission Review report into drought funding initiated by the Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke was one of the most appalling reports I have read.

“And the draft Productivity Commission review into export wheat marketing failed to take into account the views of the majority of wheat growers.

“I am also made public my concern that the Productivity Commission Review into the Rural Research and Development Corporations is a Trojan horse which will lead to a cut in research funding for agriculture.

Mr Cobb said whilst the Productivity Commission did have an important role to play, any Minister who relied solely on the views of the Productivity Commission was not fit to be a Minister.

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