Courier-Mail letter to editor
41 Campbell Street
BOWEN HILLS 4006
I refer to your editorial ‘AQIS should explain itself over canker’ (Courier-Mail, 16 July).
A 2001 agreement between the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and Pacific Century Productions (PCP) in no way impeded surveying of that company’s Emerald farm for exotic pests and diseases.
In fact, the deed of arrangement ensured that AQIS had ongoing access to survey the company’s property for exotic disease for up to 18 months. The agreement did not affect other authorities’ ability to undertake surveys on the PCP property or on other properties in the area.
In the interest of correcting misconceptions about the deed of arrangement, and given that AQIS surveillance concluded more than a year ago, AQIS has released the full document for public scrutiny.
Access the deed here PDF [1.3 M]
The deed required PCP to permit access to its property, surveying and sampling of citrus and other material on that property, and the destruction of citrus trees.
AQIS responded promptly to claims by a third party of illegal imports; it is a matter of public record that insufficient evidence was found to support a prosecution.
The then Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) was involved in initial AQIS inspections of the property, when a warrant to search the premises was served, and when a quarantine order was imposed on the property.
The Federal Court approved six weeks’ access to the property for AQIS. Because this was not enough time for comprehensive monitoring, PCP agreed for AQIS to have access for up to 18 months despite a lack of evidence of illegal imports.
The deed of arrangement acknowledged that monitoring could have commercial consequences for the firm and therefore contained a confidentiality clause.
Your editorial’s claim that communication between Queensland and Australian Government authorities ‘has been poor’ is without foundation. Officers from AQIS and QDPI were involved in the initial quarantine order; information was also provided on the results of surveys on the property to Queensland authorities and industry in November 2001 through a national plant health consultative committee.
Joint Commonwealth and State co-operation continues in relation to the recent detection of disease on the PCP property.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
17 Jul 2006