Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has announced that the federal government plans to increase penalties against processors of illegally dumped imported tomatoes, as well as introduce legislation that will reverse the onus of proof on foreign suppliers.
According to Macfarlane, tomato importers that have illegally dumped product earlier this month are also likely to be penalised, The Weekly Times Now reports.
However trade advocates together with the labor government have stated that the reversing of the onus of proof could be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.
Liberal MP Sharman Stone, who has been very public about her support for struggling food processor SPC Ardmona, says that ‘urgent’ action needs to be taken. She also dismissed concerns regarding potential retaliation from trade partners.
“Let’s test it and see. If we are the poor little pathetic scared people who always worry that someone might say ‘Just a minute’, then let’s forget our anti-dumping regime and continue as before,” said Stone.
SPCA recently secured $22m from the Victorian state government, and $78m from parent company Coca-Cola Amatil as part of a restructure plan over the next three years.
CCA announced this week that it had taken in excess of a $400m hit to profits due to write-downs related to SPC Ardmona. CCA says that the write-downs are a result of dumped imported product and the high Australian dollar.