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B2004/25 - Key Nationals reps hear from scientists and industry on Filipino banana risk

Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell and fellow Nationals representing banana-growing electorates, Larry Anthony and Luke Hartsuyker, were briefed today in Brisbane by banana industry leaders and 3 eminent scientists examining Biosecurity Australia’s Import Risk Assessment for bananas from the Philippines.

“The industry disagrees with the IRA report findings and raised points of difference between Biosecurity Australia’s science and what they believe to be correct. This is the constructive approach that I want to encourage as a representative of the banana industry in the Parliament,” Senator Boswell said.

“The first step for the industry in preventing Filipino banana imports is to prove that the level of risk is unacceptable.”

“Growers recognise that their arguments against the IRA report have to be backed up with scientific facts that can be presented to the Parliament, and that is what the scientists are now working on,” Senator Boswell said.

“Based on the briefing I received today, I believe the banana industry has a case and I am going to support them by putting the points of difference they have raised to Biosecurity Australia and asking for an explanation.”

With the recent release of the updated IRA report, the industry has been given 60 days to respond or object to its findings. They have consistently raised concerns that the chances of diseases like Moko and Freckle from Filipino bananas spreading to Australian crops would be high, compromising Australia’s clean green image and putting the local industry at risk.

“I am not prepared to go into detail at this stage, but it is fair to say that the scientists believe that there are flaws in the latest IRA report and they are working on putting together their facts and building their argument so that I can present it to Biosecurity Australia within the 60 day timeframe.”

Senator Boswell said he had been encouraged by advertisements and overtures from the major retail chains suggesting they would continue to support Australian banana growers.

“This kind of support for the local industry from retailers, with continued support from consumers, backed up by Federal Government labelling requirements, will assist to ensure Australian growers can keep providing us with top quality bananas,” Senator Boswell said.

The Banana industry is Australia’s largest fruit-based industry. There are around 1900 registered banana growers in Australia, producing 315,000 tonnes of bananas last year. Philippines banana production is upwards of 5.2 million tonnes with around one third going to export markets.


Media Contact - Paul Leven 07 3001 8150