THE sweet juice of a fresh pineapple dribbled down the chins of Senator Ron Boswell and Bruce Young yesterday, but word of Malaysian imports left a sour taste.
Mr Boswell, The Nationals senator for Queensland, was at Yeppoon's Tropical Pines farm and processing facility where he tasted some local pines and discussed an application before Biosecurity Australia to import pineapples from Malaysia.
Tropical Pines has responded to a draft import risk assessment on December 19, 2011, objecting to the application on the grounds of science, namely the risk of a disease, called fruit collapse, found in 40% of Malaysian pineapples, being introduced into Australia.
Tropical Pines agronomist Col Scott yesterday said the bacteria caused the fruit and plants to rot, and could be "quite devastating to the industry" as it was capable of spreading.
He said Tropical Pines would receive a reply by June and had 30 days to again respond.
"We are not opposed to the import of fruit, we believe good competition is good for the market," he said.
"Australia is capable of supplying the market demands in terms of fresh fruit.
"There is no need for fruit to be imported."
Marketing and sales manager Joe Craggs said the Yeppoon district supplied 20% to 25% of the nation with fresh pineapples, some 8000 tonnes a year.
Sen Boswell said he agreed that the fresh fruit should not come from Malaysia, even if topped or dipped, as the risks were "too great."
He said he would take the issue to parliament and put questions to Biosecurity Australia.
"I can refer it to the senate committee and put cases of pineapple growers like Tropical Pines directly to the senate committee and put out a report," he said.
"Growers are waiting anxiously to see what Biosecurity have to say."
- Malaysia is applying to import pineapples to Australia
- Yeppoon's Tropical Pines has responded to a draft import risk assessment objecting the application
- 40% of Malaysian pines have "fruit collapse" disease which could spread to Australia