A former trade minister has revealed his surprise at the decision by Biosecurity Australia (BA) to allow Philippine bananas into Australia, claiming that any disease that enters the country as a result could be "devastating".
Warren Truss, the former minister for trade and agriculture, said that he was amazed by the decision that he felt could expose the country to a number of different diseases, the Coffs Coast Advocate reported.
"I'm staggered the government has decided to import," he said during a visit to Coffs Harbour. "It will be devastating if disease comes into the country."
In November last year, BA made a preliminary recommendation that Philippines bananas be allowed access to the Australian market, amid threats by Philippines traders to take Australia before the World Trade Organisation.
The Australian Banana Growers' Council lodged a subsequent appeal to the Import Risk Analysis Panel against the decision.
"Given the breadth of disease concerns about banana imports, and the disease-free status of our banana industry, growers have every right to be concerned," Mr Truss said. "There is no evidence that the disease and quarantine issues that have stopped the imports in the past have been resolved."