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Monday, 08 March 2010 23:09

Burke back flip on 'Mad Cow imports'

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Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has reversed a decision to allow beef imports from countries previously known to have been affected by BSE - more commonly known as mad cow disease - pending a full risk analysis of the policy.

Government lifted the ban on beef imports from BSE affected nations just one week ago, leading to a storm of protest from Australian primary producers.

Mr Burke acknowledged the decision to defer imports until an import risk analysis had been carried out was a direct result of community concerns of the past week.

The decision buys a two-year reprieve for beef producers - the risk analysis will take 24 months, during which time beef can only be imported from New Zealand, as is the case now.

New South Wales Nationals Senator Fiona Nash  said the mad cow announcement was a "victory for commonsense," and a victory for the court of public opinion.

"Beef producers across Australia have been echoing the Coalition's fierce opposition to relaxing the rules on 'mad cow' imports and seven days after the new regime began Agriculture Minister Burke has finally listened," Senator Nash said.


"I just hope Minister Burke's slashing and burning of the Agriculture Department's talent has left enough capable people within Biosecurity Australia to still allow for a thorough and rigorous import risk analysis," she said.

Independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has welcomed a decision, saying  its "great to see a bit of sanity has finally entered the debate about meat from mad cow affected countries."

"If these changes had gone ahead, Australians would not have been able to tell which meat is Australian and which meat was foreign," Senator Xenophon said.

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