The Nationals Senator Ron Boswell confirmed last night in budget estimates that Biosecurity Australia have received zero import applications from Philippine Banana producers.
“This is confirmation that there has never been a single banana imported into this country from the Philippines and therefore no jobs are at risk,” Senator Boswell said.
“The hoops that a Philippines banana producer would have to jump through to get a banana into this country would make any importation unviable and besides the protocols to even establish a market have not been set up.”
“I have been working with the industry to ensure that banana diseases never get into this country and Biosecurity Australia last night confirmed we have been successful.”
“At my insistence there was a Senate Inquiry into the Import Risk Analysis (IRA) for Philippine Cavendish bananas.”
“The final report of that inquiry insisted on highly restrictive disease conditions that would make it difficult and costly for exporters to bring bananas into this country.”
“The committee were given assurances by Biosecurity Australia that all costs of testing and administrative requirements will be borne by Philippine exporters at every level, including the cost of AQIS inspectors who will be located on farms, in the packing sheds and at the ports,” Senator Boswell said.
“The Committee sought assurances that those carrying out inspections were Australian officers of AQIS and BA and they would be stationed in the Philippines for whole time that Philippine bananas are being exported and not just for the short-term.”
Senator Boswell said, “The whole purpose of the Cavendish Banana IRA is to make sure that Australia stays free of exotic diseases such as Moko, Black Sigatoka and Freckle.”
“Banana grower stakeholders to the IRA have demanded a rigorous assessment of the process that is scientifically based with any policing of the IRA to be capable of identifying non- compliance, and in my mind these demands are reasonable.”
“When looking at IRA’s it has always been my attitude to keep Australian commodities free of disease and relieve industry of any unnecessary cost burdens of disease control.”
“The banana industry has 800 growers, is worth more than $350 million per year, and employs more than 5000 people directly and as such is too valuable to our economy and that of North Queensland to risk any outbreak of an exotic disease.”
Senator Boswell said that “Biosecurity Australia’s answers prove that the conditions are so stringent for Philippine banana producers there is no incentive for their industry to even try to send bananas to Australia.”
Senator Boswell cautioned that “We cannot rest easy. We must continue to be vigilant in keeping potential diseased bananas from entering this country.”