The Government’s negligent actions in allowing the deadly Psa disease into New Zealand will again be under close scrutiny as the kiwifruit case heads to the Court of Appeal this week.
Nine years after the Psa outbreak which decimated the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand, the Government has appealed the decision that found MPI negligent over the biosecurity incursion which devastated the lives of many kiwifruit growers.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman, John Cameron said he was confident the Court of Appeal would agree with the landmark 2018 High Court judgement which found MPI was negligent on several different occasions when it allowed the deadly Psa disease into New Zealand.
“We firmly believe the Government is taking a massive risk in appealing Justice Mallon’s judgement. The High Court decision clearly determined that MPI failed in its biosecurity duties and owed kiwifruit growers a duty of care when carrying out these duties.
“The evidence presented by over 60 witnesses during the 3-month trial, firmly established that MPI knew for many years that PSA was a significant risk to the kiwifruit industry and the outbreak was a result of the agency’s failures to follow its own protocols under the Biosecurity Act.
“The Government’s appeal is disappointing. They are attempting to dispute this strong factual evidence and undermine Justice Mallon’s decision,” said Mr Cameron.
“The Psa incursion caused significant losses to many growers, many of whom still haven’t recovered and could easily have been avoided if MPI had done their job properly.
“Our cross-appeal seeks to confirm that MPI was also negligent when they failed to inspect the shipment of banned kiwifruit plant material, infected with Psa, at the border when it arrived from China. MPI admitted in court that they were legally required to inspect the shipment and it was an error on their part when they failed to do so,” said Mr Cameron.
“It also challenges the decision that the Government did not owe a duty of care to Seeka as a post-harvest operator.
Mr Cameron adds “When the Government gets things wrong, they need to front up and put things right. The Government have a $100m insurance policy to cover it for negligence in performing its biosecurity role and we have a High Court Judgement clearly stating that MPI was negligent. In Justice Mallon’s own words, ‘the wrong should be remedied and it is just, fair and reasonable that MPI take responsibility for their actions and losses they have caused’.
“The growers remain committed to fighting the Government and MPI for fair compensation for the losses MPI has caused,” he said.