23 Aug 2011

Australian senator seeks to protect apple growers

5:13 pm on 23 August 2011

Australian senator Nick Xenophon is to lodge a private member's bill to protect Australian apple growers from what he has called the "herpes of fruit".

Biosecurity Australia last week approved imports of apples from New Zealand ending a 90-year ban, despite growers protesting about the risk of fire blight and other diseases entering the country.

Earlier on Tuesday, Opposition agriculture spokesperson John Cobb decided not to proceed with a private member's bill that could have delayed the entry of the New Zealand apples, the ABC reports.

Mr Xenophon says his bill will be based on scientific evidence and compliant with World Trade Organisation rules.

In South Australia, the state government says it will impose a quarantine zone around Adelaide Hills apple and pear orchards.

The state's Agriculture Minister, Michael O'Brien, says it would be similar to those used to combat fruit fly outbreaks.

Mr O'Brien says sale of New Zealand apples also would be banned at supermarkets in the Adelaide Hills.