A controversial exemption to allow South Australian potatoes to be sold in Tasmania has been given the all clear by an independent review - with a few caveats.
Former Australian Government Chief Plant Protection Officer Lois Ransom has found the DPIPWE decision to allow washed and ready to eat potatoes from a single SA supplier was "technically sound and justified", despite outrage from local spud growers.
She made three recommendations:
1. The Conditional Exemption, with a small number of recommended modifications, should remain in place and should not be revoked
2. The permit is revised to require that:
· All imported potatoes are grown from certified seed to reduce the risk of entry of potato virus Y (PVY) to an acceptable level.
· Retail packs containing imported potatoes are labelled ‘not for planting’.
3. The Statement of Reasons is revised to provide greater clarity on the risk of exotic strains of PVY and the measures being undertaken for its management to ensure an appropriate level of biosecurity protection.
"I have accepted Ms Ransom’s recommendations in full and have asked Biosecurity Tasmania to implement them immediately," Tim Baker, Secretary, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said.
Biosecurity Tasmania has commenced reviewing the Import Risk Assessment for importing potatoes and will review the program of audit and verification as part of that process.
"Biosecurity Tasmania will also meet with South Australian authorities to discuss audit and verification, and visit the South Australian potato processor," Mr Baker said.
The Department says it's listened closely to concerns raised and will now publish quarterly all information on permits that are refused and granted.
It'll also undertake industry consultation when there could be significant industry impact.