4 February 2011
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, today assured banana growers that Australia will not relax food quarantine arrangements in response to recent flood events across the eastern states or Cyclone Yasi.
“The Government is committed to meeting the highest biosecurity standards possible to protect Australia’s plant, animal and human health status,” Minister Ludwig said.
“All fresh produce to Australia is subject to rigorous risk analysis processes to determine and manage any quarantine risks.
“While the full extent of the impact won’t be known for some days, there are reports of widespread damage to the banana crop in Far North Queensland.
“The Prime Minister has announced immediate assistance for people who’ve been adversely impacted by Cyclone Yasi, including assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy.
“We stand ready to work with affected communities if further assistance is needed, once the Queensland Government has had the opportunity to fully survey the damage.
“In the meantime, the Gillard Government can guarantee that our strict quarantine standards will not be relaxed at the expense of our farming communities.”
Following the completion of an Import Risk Analysis in 2008, Australia’s Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine determined the quarantine policy for the importation of bananas from the Philippines in 2009.
“I appreciate that the prospect of Australia importing bananas from the Philippines has generated concern amongst Australian consumers and banana producers,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Although an Import Risk Analysis has been completed for bananas from the Philippines, it would take a number of years to complete any of the required trials before Australia would consider any actual importation.”