8 March 2010
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke has today written to the Director of Quarantine requesting Biosecurity Australia do an Import Risk Analysis for fresh beef (chilled or frozen) from countries other than New Zealand.
On 1 March 2010, the Rudd Government withdrew the previous blanket ban on any beef imports from countries that had ever had a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
“Since the Government’s decision, there has been considerable community discussion about the methods which would be used to determine protocols for imports,” Mr Burke said.
“There has been significant community concern questioning whether the protocols adequately engaged the community and the extent to which they were different from a regulated Import Risk Analysis.
“These community concerns have been brought to me directly through Labor backbench colleagues and through the media.
“I have formed a view that conducting an Import Risk Analysis is the best way of reassuring the Australian community that effective protocols will be put in place to provide for the safety of imports.
“There are three differences between the decision I have taken today and the process available since March 1.
“This is a formal review process with specified time lines, guaranteed opportunities for community engagement and consultation as well as the added assurance of review by the Eminent Scientists Group.
“I stress that the original method for determining protocols was science-based and similarly provided for safety for consumers.
“In light of community concern there is considerable benefit in adopting the tried-and-true method for assessing imports which applies to each commodity.
“The policy which was previously announced remains in place.
“The assessment of the risks of such imports will now have a higher level of formality.
“I remain firmly committed to Australia having rigorous standards in food safety and a science-based biosecurity system. This decision will help deliver both.”