MPI was ‘incompetent’ in handling of Psa – Kiwifruit Claim group

Rural Exchange 30/06/2018

The High Court’s landmark decision found the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) negligent in its handling of kiwifruit disease Psa, leaving 212 kiwifruit growers relieved in the decision.

Kiwifruit growers could be entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation after winning a class action.

The Psa outbreak, which was first detected in 2010, devastated many orchards, left some owners bankrupt and caused huge stress to farmers. Growers argued the Government should be liable for costs.

If MPI followed their own regulations, Psa would have not come into New Zealand.

Grant Eynon from Kiwifruit Claim Grower Committee told RadioLIVE that the Court found MPI negligent on at least three different counts.

“They were incompetent. And if they had, this bacteria would never be here,” he said.

Justice Jillian Mallon ruled in favour of most of the growers on Friday, agreeing that MPI (formerly the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries) breached its duty of care to at least some of the orchardists

Justice Mallon also agreed that the imported pollen was the cause of the outbreak.

MPI will have 20 days to decide to appeal, which Mr Eynon hopes doesn’t happen.

“We’re hoping the Crown decides to work with us and we get some fair compensation for all our growers,” he told RadioLIVE.

He explained the kiwifruit growers were hit extraordinarily hard by Psa, and that compensation for their losses should be generous.

“The human cost of this has been enormous. Don’t be fooled by a whole lot of good news that comes out now – a lot of people never got there.”

If an appeal isn't filed - or if an appeal is later rejected - the next stage in the court process will look at compensation - who is entitled for payment and exactly how much.

“If MPI followed their own regulations, Psa would have not come into New Zealand."

Watch the full interview with Grant Eynon above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.