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State Member for Hill Shane Knuth has hit back at insulting comments made by Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud in relation to the proposed importation of limes from Mexico as condescending to local lime producers.
Mr Knuth said serious concerns were raised by industry representatives on the bio-security risks to the local industry by the importation of limes from a country which is highly susceptible to canker and has over 101 pests and diseases.
“Queensland, who are the biggest producers of lime in Australia were declared free from the disease in 2009, however this was only after the devastating destruction of large numbers of commercial citrus of all kinds” he said.
Mr Knuth said this did not appear to be a concern for Mr Littleproud who stated in an article published by Queensland Country Life that “Under the Free Trade Agreement (TPP11), Australia is under obligation to give market access to other countries including Mexico. There is a technical process that we go through, and we have to understand, it’s no longer the 1950s, we actually have to trade to the world,” Littleproud said.
Mr Knuth said not only were the comments condescending to local industry representatives, but also shows how the application for importation will be assessed.
“Our local producers have raised real concerns over bio security risks and the Federal Ag Minister has basically dismissed these concerns with a truly condescending comment,” he said.
“Citrus growers are not idiots. They are mums and dads and families who have worked hard to build an industry and have real fears it could all be destroyed at the flick of a pen by an agriculture minister that seems more concerned with fulfilling overarching trade agreements than he does with protecting our own local industries.
“Mr Littleproud went on to say that his governments trade decision is based on the science and not on cheap politics.
“Is it cheap politics to represent local producers to raise serious concerns over the importation of a product that could devastate the entire industry in Queensland?
“The only cheap politics being played here is the Federal Ag Ministers insistence that we are beholden to world trade agreements, driven by large corporations, over bio security concerns that could wipe out an entire Queensland industry.
“We have seen the devastating effects free trade and deregulation have had on rural industries in the past and producers are sick and tired of suits, sitting behind a desk in Canberra, playing chess with people’s lives and livelihoods.
“It will be on the Federal Ag Ministers head if he allows this, and our local industry is wiped out.”
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