In the latest bid to block the entry of New Zealand apples onto the Australian market, The Tasmanian Apple and Pear Growers Association is warning that, if they are imported, at least a third of the trees that make up the state’s A$70m industry will be destroyed within four years.

The growers are adamant that the quarantine measures proposed to deal with the fire-blight bacteria on New Zealand apples are wholly inadequate to prevent infection of Australian trees. The chlorine dips on New Zealand export fruits would not kill all the bacteria, they say, adding that the suggestion of the Federal Government’s Biosecurity Australia to allow NZ growers to merely remove diseased tree limbs fails to deal effectively with the problem.

Furthermore the disease-free buffer zones of 50 metres are in no way large enough to prevent contamination.

Backed by unions, community groups and scientists, growers’ associations throughout Australia are lobbying MPs in marginal seats to demand a re-write. If the import protocols are not changed, warn the groups, they will initiate action to physically block the supply of NZ apples.