1 Dec 2014

Compo claim growers told no backlash

7:36 am on 1 December 2014

The kiwifruit industry group taking legal action against the Government over the vine disease Psa getting into the country says it has been assured by ministers that there will be no Government comeback over the claim.

kiwifruit on vines

The kiwifruit vine disease Psa is believed to have cost the country at least $885 million. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The group of growers and post harvest operators filed the class action lawsuit against the Government in the High Court on Friday.

It alleges that Biosecurity New Zealand was negligent in allowing Psa to be introduced into New Zealand, costing the country at least $885 million.

Claim spokesperson Matthew Hooton said by the end of last week, growers representing about 18 percent of the country's gold kiwifruit production and eight percent of green kiwifruit production had joined the claim.

A further seven percent who had signed up were yet to be confirmed as gold or green growers.

Mr Hooton said it would be up to the High Court to decide how long the claim would remain open for others to join.

He said anyone holding back because they were worried about how the Government would respond should not worry.

"We've kept in informal and formal contact with Government ministers and it's been made absolutely clear that the Government will not be linking this litigation to any other issues within the industry," he said.

"The Government's very supportive of the export monopoly. The Government supports the industry with research and development, and of course kiwifruit was the big winner from the recent free trade agreement with South Korea."

Mr Hooton said Zespri had been under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for some time, but that had not affected its broader relationship, or the industry's broader relationship, with the Government.

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