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Regulatory body will take ‘some weeks’ to decide if imported berries are considered higher risk

Questioning during estimates has revealed it will take ‘some weeks’ for Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) to undertake a risk assessment which will advise the Department of Agriculture on whether to increase risk levels on berries entering Australia.

“My questions during estimates revealed the Department of Agriculture cannot lift risk levels to medium or high until they have received advice from FSANZ that will take weeks”, said Senator Siewert, Greens spokesperson on Agriculture.

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29 out of 30 importers of Chinese berries continue to send berries to Australia through failing biosecurity checks

Further questioning in senate estimate hearings this afternoon have revealed further flaws in the regulatory process that is supposed to ensure biosecurity in Australia.

“It seems the plot has thickened when it comes to the Hepatitis A contaminated berries imported  from China”, said Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for agriculture.

“29 importers are still delivering berries from China that underwent the same flawed Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) process as Nanna’s Berries.

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No extra food safety checks after Hep A outbreak

Under questioning by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed berries being imported to Australia are not being subjected to any extra safety checks, in spite of contaminated products sparking an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Dr Paul Grimes has told a Senate Estimates hearing this morning, "We have not made changes on surveillance rates broadly at this stage."

Senator Siewert has described that as a completely ludicrous failure.

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Greens: We can’t expect to catch contaminated berries when the Government cuts funds

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has slammed statements from the Prime Minister who reject changes to the system saying it was the responsibility of business not to poision their customers and it was a 'balancing act' that did not impose unnecessary burdens on business.  

"Clearly the balance is wrong when you get this sort of bad health outcome. Our regulatory system has repeatedly failed to stop contaminated food, pests and plant diseases crossing our borders and will continue to do so unless they are improved and adequately supported’.

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Action on climate change, not prayer the answer for drought

The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to take meaningful action on climate change to combat the long term threat that drought poses to Australia's agricultural sector.

"Support for farmers and growers facing drought is very important, but it is not a long term solution," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

"More extreme droughts as a result of global warming aren't a one-off problem. The future of farming families depends on addressing the changing climate as part of our response to drought.

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Biosecurity bill undermined by budget cuts

The Australian Greens said today that Government's efforts on biosecurity are undermined by their reckless budget cuts and lack of meaningful action on climate change.

"The Government has lauded the fact they've introduced their biosecurity bill to Parliament today, but they're ignoring the fact that their budget cuts are actively undermining Australia's biosecurity protections," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

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Senate opposes move to collapse biosecurity operations

The Senate has today backed an Australian Greens motion calling on the Government to rule out any push to integrate Australia's biosecurity operations into the new Australian Border Force Agency.

"The Senate has recognised the importance of well resourced, expert biosecurity operations in protecting Australia's biosecurity status and agricultural industry," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

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Greens back recommendations on grass-fed cattle levies

Australian Greens Senators Rachel Siewert and Pete Whish-Wilson have supported the Senate Inquiry report into Industry structures and systems governing levies on grass-fed cattle, and tabled some additional comments to the Committee to address issues that will have long term bearings on the industry.

"The Greens understand the importance of supporting farmers and graziers to ensure that their industries and communities remain viable in the years ahead," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

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