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Ministerial Statement on kiwifruit vine disease Psa

( Mr Speaker, I wish to make a ministerial statement under Standing Order 347 to inform the House of a matter of significant public importance, in relation to the detection of the kiwifruit vine disease Psa in a Bay of Plenty orchard.

Last Friday at 4.00pm, MAF was informed of the suspected discovery of Psa on a single orchard in Te Puke. MAF and the kiwifruit industry quickly initiated a response to determine the extent of spread and options for dealing with the disease.

Last night, test results confirmed Psa.

The immediate focus is on determining what strain of PSA it is, how widely spread the disease is and containing it if possible.

MAF is working closely with industry on an operating strategy and considerable resources are being made available to the response.

Technical experts from MAF, ZESPRI and Plant & Food are on the orchard today.

Industry meetings are underway. Growers are being briefed and provided with material to enable them to screen their own property for the disease.

Provisions are being made to enable lab facilities to rapidly process samples to test for Psa.

I am closely in touch with developments and I will be in the Bay of Plenty this evening and meeting with industry representatives and growers tomorrow.

MAF, working with MFAT, has informed our relevant trading partners, including Australia, USA and China. We will work to minimise the risk of any trade restrictions by providing regular information and updates.

At this stage we do not know how the disease arrived in New Zealand. It is possible that it may have been here for some time.

Psa is spread by pollen, heavy rainfall, strong winds, animals and humans. The disease appears to only attack under certain environmental conditions.

It carries no human or animal health risk and does not affect plants other than kiwifruit vines. Kiwifruit remain safe to eat.

This is a time for a considered and responsible approach and I am encouraged that all primary sector stakeholders are supporting the kiwifruit industry and Government as we work out exactly what we are dealing with.

I want to reiterate that biosecurity is paramount for a healthy and successful primary sector.

Three quarters of a billion dollars is spent annually on biosecurity in New Zealand.

Contrary to some claims, the Government has not cut funding for biosecurity. In fact, spending on biosecurity increased in Budget 2010.

Our commitment to providing the most robust biosecurity system possible is unfailing.

This is a matter that the Government and officials are treating very seriously. I want to reassure Members that the best people possible are working day and night to manage this threat to a crucial primary industry.

Mr Speaker, this is a time when the best response to this emergency will be achieved by a collaborative approach from all New Zealanders with a genuine interest in protecting New Zealand’s biosecurity.

Media Release 9 November 2010 from David Carter, Minister of BioSecurity.



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