Coronas taste better with Aussie limes, not imported Mexican citrus
A CORONA will always taste better with Australian limes Kennedy MP Bob Katter says in response to a proposal to import Mexican limes.
The Federal Government has completed its risk analysis for Mexico’s request for domestic market access to import fresh Persian limes into Australia – permitting access, but is yet to develop and publish import conditions.
Mr Katter, who represents about 80 per cent of Australia’s lime plantations said there was significant concern among Far North Queensland growers of being economically undermined and the threat of imported diseases.
“The Government’s own analysis states there’s 20 different diseases associated with these limes, and I really don’t believe that even the strictest quarantine protocols can negate this threat,” Mr Katter said. 
“In Mexico, limes and other citrus are produced in farms that have vastly different regulations to those imposed on Australian farms. The standards that the Australian Government and major supermarkets chains hold Australian farmers to, are considerably more onerous than those imposed in Mexico.”
Mr Katter said he had been advised by advocacy body FNQ Growers that, beyond the biosecurity threats, a decision to allow Mexican limes into the country would likely cause an oversupply in the market, significantly hampering economic opportunities for the region’s growers.
“It is clear that this decision will decimate Australia’s $768m per year citrus industry, with the threat of diseases, but also by undermining the cost inputs local growers face from wages to regulatory checks, which compare unfavourably to their Mexican counterparts.
“And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been told by my staff that Mexico’s premier lager – Corona – tastes a lot better with an Aussie lime in it.”
KAP Member for Hill Shane Knuth said serious concerns had continued to be raised by industry representatives on the bio-security risks to the local industry by the importation of limes from a country which could be highly susceptible to pests and diseases.
“Queensland, who are the biggest producers of lime in Australia were declared free from the disease in 2009, however this was only after the devastating destruction of large numbers of commercial citrus of all kinds,” Mr Knuth said.
“Citrus growers are mums and dads and families who have worked hard to build an industry from the ground up and have real fears it could all be shattered.
“This could all be destroyed with the flick of a pen, and we hope that the Federal Government finally uses common sense and stops the importation of limes.”
Mr Katter said he had written to the federal agriculture minister imploring him to not allow Mexican limes into the country, while tabling the following question on notice:
HON BOB KATTER: To ask the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry —
(1) Could the Minister please explain his support for a decision of the Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to allow for the importation of fresh limes from Mexico?
(2) As the Minister would be aware Australia has a $768 000 000 per year citrus industry that will be decimated by this decision. As such can the Minister:
- a) detail the reasons why the potential economic impacts of this decision cannot be considered?
- b) provide a guarantee that other trading countries under the World Trade Organisation, equally do not consider economic impacts when making such a decision?
- c) justify the decision in terms of the consumer need for imported limes when Australia already has a domestic supply of limes?
- d) provide detail on the consideration of the prevalence and risk of diseases including but not restricted to, citrus scab and citrus leprosis?
- e) provide detail on the consideration of the prevalence and threat posed by the introduction of the Asian citrus Psyllid, which is a vector for the most devesting citrus disease worldwide?
- f) provide guarantees that imported limes will be subject to the same regulatory impositions and standards, including wage and workplace standards, placed on farmers by both the Australian government and the major supermarket chains?
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