World news – Issue date 08 February 2008

NZ and Australia in WTO apple dispute.
NZ needs overseas farmworkers.

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NZ and Australia in WTO apple dispute

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has begun an inquiry into New Zealand’s complaint that Australia is illegally blocking imports of its apples. In the first WTO-brokered dispute between the two neighbours, New Zealand said Australia’s 80-year ban on their apples because of fire blight disease is not scientifically justified and violates world trade rules. The WTO’s dispute settlement body agreed to set up an investigative panel after New Zealand requested it for the second time. Australia used its right to block New Zealand’s first request for the panel, saying talks between the two countries were the best way to settle the dispute. New Zealand said it has tried that for years without success. The US, Japan, Chile, the EU and Taiwan have all asked for third-party standing in the case. – Alan Harman

NZ needs overseas farmworkers

The New Zealand dairy industry needs more than 3 000 workers and concedes they will have to be imported. New Zealand’s Federated Farmers organisation has been talking to the Immigration Service about relaxing its rules to allow easier access for foreign workers. Frank Brenmuhl of Federated Farmers said up to 1 000 farm workers are needed on each island and at least as many in related agricultural sectors. Farms are expanding and up to 100 new dairy operations would be created this year. “They’ll need an average of four staff each – that’s another 400,” said Brenmuhl. The farmers are willing to train new workers. Brenmuhl said that overseas workers are prepared to work for their money, whereas New Zealanders expect to be paid for turning up.
Federated Farmers’ latest farm survey shows that dairy trainees earn about $33 400 a year in pay and other benefits. Salary packages rise to more than $70 500 for managers of large farms. – Alan Harman