THE federal government is putting pressure on Tasmania to allow imports into the state of New Zealand apples.
The state’s ban risks jeopardising Australia’s $30 billion of global exports of beef, wheat, wool and other foods and rural products under World Trade Organisation free trade rules.
New Zealand apple grower organisation Pipfruit NZ wants its government to retaliate against Australia if its apples continue to be blocked from Tasmania.
It is also pushing for a legal case at the WTO, arguing Australia is breaching its free trade deal with New Zealand on unimpeded access for agricultural goods.
Tasmania’s Acting Premier and Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green admitted yesterday he had discussed Tasmania’s position on New Zealand apples with the federal government “on a number of occasions”.
But he said he did not believe a federal government High Court challenge to Tasmania’s ban - testing the power of the commonwealth to control the states - was being considered.
No other state has yet mirrored Tasmania’s stance and openly defied the federal government’s approval of New Zealand apple imports, despite murmurings late last year from South Australia.
Four months ago Australia gave the green light to New Zealand apple imports for sale after insisting on strict quarantine controls and inspections to keep out the fire blight bacterial disease.
The 90-year ban on New Zealand apples was only lifted after a successful application by New Zealand to the WTO.