Australia – Govt. to appeal pork quarantine ruling

Date of publication : 6/21/2005
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The federal government will take an appeal against a judge's ruling on the nation's quarantine system to the full Federal Court. The Agriculture Department outlined its grounds for appeal against a decision by Justice Murray Wilcox which has undermined the entire system used by quarantine authorities. It follows Justice Wilcox's finding earlier this month in which he strongly criticised quarantine agency Biosecurity Australia and an import risk analysis it compiled that cleared the way for pork imports from a range of countries. Justice Wilcox said quarantine authorities had ignored warnings that the imports would effectively guarantee the disease post weaning systematic wasting syndrome (PMWS) would gain a foothold in Australia. PMWS kills millions of piglets globally each year. Australia is one of the few nations free of the disease. Last week Justice Wilcox issued orders banning any more permits under the import risk analysis, and blocked one company's permit to import. But in a statement, the department said it would ask the full Federal Court to overturn Justice Wilcox's findings and ruling. "The appeal is based on several grounds. These include that the court was wrong to conclude that a part of the scientific risk assessment underpinning the policy for importing pig meat into Australia was flawed," it said in a statement. "A further ground for the appeal is that the court was wrong in finding the risk management reasoning to be unreasonable." The department will also argue the court could not rule on the decision to allow in pork imports because of the Administrative Decisions Judicial Review Act. The move comes as Australian Pork Ltd (APL), which took the initial action against Biosecurity and the quarantine decision, said it would demand all pork import permits be revoked by 1700 AEST Tuesday. The department maintains that 84 permits can continue despite Justice Wilcox's ruling. It argues that his ruling applied to just one particular permit, that held by Fayman's International. But APL said if the permits were not revoked, it would take legal action again. "At the end of the day, the process would be to tie those 84 permit-holders in one hit as far as I'm concerned, to have their permits set aside as with Fayman's," APL chairman Nigel Smith told ABC radio. "As far as we're concerned we're not going to stop. We've come this far. For all of a sudden to put the brakes on now would be illogical and we would not be representing our members properly if we did."
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