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B2004/30 - BA’s banana skin slip could have been costly

Something as simple as a ‘transcription error’ in transferring important data to risk analysis software, as admitted today by Biosecurity Australia, had the potential to cause devastation in the Australian banana industry, according to the Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell.
“The IRA decision on importing Filipino bananas will directly affect the livelihoods of 2000 banana farmers and their families and I would have expected the risk analysis spread-sheets to have been checked 100 times to ensure they were correct before the initial release of the revised draft IRA,” Senator Boswell said.

“Such mistakes are not acceptable and should not slip through the net, especially when so many livelihoods, and Australia’s disease-free reputation are at stake.”

Senator Boswell said that the risk analysis spreadsheet had now been corrected and that the quarantine measures outlined in the draft IRA would need to be reassessed as a result. Biosecurity Australia would now need to republish the revised draft IRA report, with an addendum documenting the changes that will need to be made as a result of the error.

“I welcome the admission from BA that the prescribed quarantine measures may need to be strengthened as a result of this error and I look forward to following through on that issue,” he said.

“I also welcome the announcement that a new 60-day comment period will commence from the date of release of the amended draft IRA report,” Senator Boswell said.

“Today’s admission vindicates The Nationals’ science-based approach to challenging the decision to allow Filipino banana imports,” Senator Boswell said.

“I have been pursuing several lines of questioning through the Senate Inquiry process and there are more answers required and more work needed to ensure Australian banana crops are kept free from exotic pests like Mealy Bug and diseases like Moko, Freckle and Banana Bract Mosaic Virus.”

“However, today’s announcement represents an admission that quarantine measures will need to be re-examined if we are to meet our quarantine goals with the importation of Filipino bananas,” Senator Boswell said.

ENDS

Media Contact - Paul Leven 07 3001 8150