Kiwifruit growers, whose livelihoods were decimated when the Government let the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, have today started the appeal process in the Supreme Court to hold the Government to account for their negligence.
John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman, believes they have a strong case for appealing the Court of Appeal decision which found that even though the Government was in fact responsible for PSA coming into New Zealand, they’re not liable for the huge losses caused by their negligence, because they’re the Government.
“In 2018, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a media interview ‘I think we have to front up when the Government gets thing wrong’.”
“There is absolutely no doubt the Government got it wrong and was responsible for the devastation of the kiwifruit industry when they allowed PSA into New Zealand. Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have confirmed this, yet the Government continue to fail to front up and take responsibility.”
Mr Cameron adds “The bottom line is the Court of Appeal decision contravenes the right of every New Zealander under the Bill of Rights Act 1990 to hold the Government to account for negligence in the same way as if it were a private company or individual.
“We’re challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Government is exempt from liability under the Crown Proceedings Act because they get to take advantage of immunities for employees under the Biosecurity Act,” said Mr Cameron. “The Court of Appeal followed an outdated Supreme Court case which we believe is plainly wrong and fails to address our entitlement under the Bill of Rights.”
“The Government knew PSA existed, they knew the damage it could cause if it was let into the country and they breached their own protocols in place to keep it out. We pay significant biosecurity fees and levies to the Government and, in return expect the Government to perform their biosecurity role with reasonable care and skill.
“In this case, the Government stuffed up big time and they need to take responsibility and compensate the kiwifruit growers for the losses the Government has caused,” said Mr Cameron.