CONCERN: Jo Garrett of Jerry Creek Ginger Farm.
CONCERN: Jo Garrett of Jerry Creek Ginger Farm.

Joyce rejects Gympie ginger grower concerns

THE Federal Government appears to have brushed aside State Government and Gympie ginger growers' concerns at the quarantine risk of imported ginger, despite live worms being found in the first batch of product imported from Fiji.

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce rejected a call from his Queensland counterpart John McVeigh for an immediate halt to the imports on biosecurity grounds.

He said the worms involved were already found in Australia and were therefore not a quarantine risk.

However, farming group Growcom said the incident did prove that the quarantine measures used to safeguard Australia's inter-ests did not always work.

"Independent testing has found Australia's quarantine measure have failed to kill round worms living inside the first consignment of controversial Fijian ginger, which hit Australian shores last week," Growcom said.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Ginger Industry Association yesterday, the organisation said the live nematode worms had been found in tests co-ordinated by Mr McVeigh's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

It was an outcome feared by concerned Gympie region farmers, who have argued that the failure of quarantine treatment to kill round worms meant the nation was vulnerable to significant biosecurity threats posed by other species of worms which were also capable of living in ginger root.

Mr McVeigh attempted to give Mr Joyce an easy out by saying the federal government had inherited the problem from Labor, but Mr Joyce insisted the imports would continue.