Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee - Monday 21 February 2011
Senator COLBECK—No, let Senator Siewert do her WA-specific stuff. The obvious two states are Western Australia and Tasmania who have particular sensitivities, and additional requirements that we have seen with salmon, for example, where salmon is not permitted to go into Australia. There are significant concerns in Tasmania at the moment about the review of the act, and I am sure we will deal with that at an appropriate time. I am concerned about how those things are being managed as part of the process—you say you cannot pre-empt it—but the capacity to actually deal with that is part of this overall process.
Dr Grant—Risk assessments on all products proposed for entry into Australia, Senator, are assessed from the perspective of the risk that it presents to Australia, and we take a conservative approach. That includes taking into account concerns of individual jurisdictions—not their concerns in terms of commercial practices or anything, but, more importantly, the pest status that they have.
Senator SIEWERT—What does that mean for apples, in particular, for WA and the issues around regional differences, and our particular disease-free status?
Dr Grant—As it does now, Senator, the state can and does put in place its own requirements on transport of apples into that jurisdiction, or whatever the product may be and, indeed, that is the case in Australia at the moment for domestically produced apples.
Senator SIEWERT—The current approach will still be taken under the new risk assessment?
Dr Grant—The risk assessment will take into account the concerns for import of apples into Australia. Domestic transfer of apples is an issue for the state.
Senator SIEWERT—What you are saying is that we can still maintain the current approach to domestic transport?
Dr Grant—It is done at the moment with domestic apples, and we need to take that into consideration. We are aware of this issue; we are taking it into consideration now. It is something that we will have to work through in the review.