9 Sep 2015

Court papers suggest Biosecurity NZ negligence

6:25 pm on 9 September 2015

Information disclosed in court papers could be the smoking gun that proves Biosecurity New Zealand was negligent in allowing the kiwifruit vine disease, PSA, into the country, an Auckland University law professor says.

Bill Hodge was given the papers by members of Kiwifruit Claim who are seeking a share of $885 million worth of damage the Government estimates was caused by the disease.

Professor Hodge said the papers contend Biosecurity New Zealand could have prevented the outbreak.

"I think I now see that they have a strong argument that they can point to the source, that is a particular place in China where this PSA was endemic.

"That a method of transmission with a specific date and a specific... I think I used the word anther, although I'm not an expert, but that includes the pollen which was carrying the PSA, that it came into a particular spot at a particular time.

"That's what the Statement of Claim is suggesting, that they've got specific chapter and verse that the bad stuff came in at a point from a source that was well known and thus identifiable and preventable."

He said the Government would present a scientific opinion to the contrary.

"Undoubtedly, there's going to be a scientist on the other side who says no, it's not as precise as the plaintiff's expert, so it could be a duel of experts.

"But to the extent that they have a specific point of entry then yes, I think smoking gun is perhaps a slightly emotional but accurate term."

The deadline for growers to join the claim is 9 October, and so far 30 percent of gold and 10 percent of green kiwifruit growers have signed up.

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