Kiwifruit growers lash out at Govt's inaction over vine-killing disease PSA

Kiwifruit. Photo credit: Getty

A group of kiwifruit growers in New Zealand are questioning the Ministry for Primary Industries' decision to appeal a High Court ruling around a vine-killing disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been held fully responsible for allowing the vine-killing disease PSA into the country, and Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron says the decision shows a lack of responsibility.

"They are actually in a sense saying to the High Court that, 'We don't think that we have a duty of care to the biosecurity of New Zealand'," he said. "[That] includes, obviously, the kiwifruit case which was well proven in the courts."

MPI said in a statement that the Crown was seeking to clarify the scope for regulators to be sued for negligence.

"The Court's finding traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of the Ministry. The Ministry is continually enhancing and improving the way it manages pre-border risk and import processes at the border," it said.

"We have confidence in our current biosecurity system and its continued robustness.  New Zealand enjoys a high level of freedom from the most damaging pests and diseases as a result of the diligent actions of MPI officers, importers and others."

Mr Cameron said it's unfortunate the Government has opted to appeal the case as it will delay getting compensation.

"We are disappointed that we aren't starting to get into the compensation stuff and get the case over and done with," he said.

Orchardists are still dealing with the fallout from the disease and Mr Cameron said the Crown doesn't understand the effects it has on farmers.

"PSA is still in New Zealand, the cost to the kiwifruit industry will continue to grow, the Crown's attitude towards that is pretty naive," he said.