Ginger stand-off continues
FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says a Queensland call to ban imported Fijian ginger is not justified, because nematode worms found in an imported batch were not a biosecurity risk.
Mr Joyce's response has incensed growers in the Gympie Region, where ginger is an increasingly important crop.
And Mr Joyce's Queensland counterpart, John McVeigh, says Mr Joyce has missed the point that the survival of the worms proves that biosecurity safeguards at Australian ports were not adequate. A spokesman for Mr McVeigh yesterday said Mr McVeigh should be in the Gympie region today to discuss concerns over the issue with local ginger industry representatives.
He said Mr McVeigh had written to Mr Joyce outlining Queensland's continuing concerns, but had not received a reply.
"The biosecurity measures have failed," the spokesman said, claiming as proof the fact that nematodes of any variety had survived the methyl bromide treatment used to treat the imported product.
Mr Joyce's office yesterday referred to a departmental statement that the root knot nematode found in the imported ginger was a variety already found in Australia and which was therefore not a biosecurity risk.
"The minister has asked the department to confirm the import conditions currently applied to fresh ginger from Fiji are appropriate and will prevent entry of quarantine pests of concern," a spokesman said. "The minister is eager to ensure Australian farmers have adequate protection from pests and diseases that are not endemic to Australia."