THE former head of the Australian Garlic Industry Association has been sentenced to 11 months jail for illegally importing garlic bulbs, putting Australia’s horticulture industry at serious risk.

Ayiana Pty Ltd director Letetia Ware pleaded guilty to importing garlic bulbs over a three-year period for the purposes of commercial cultivation, without the required import permit.

Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said the case was especially concerning because of Ms Ware’s position as an industry leader.

“These actions show a blatant disregard for the biosecurity laws that protect Australia’s $7bn horticulture industry from damaging pests and diseases, and for Australians who put our safe, quality food on their tables each night,” Senator McKenzie said.

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Ms Ware was found guilty of breaching subsection 67(3) of the Quarantine Act 1908 (commercial advantage) and subsection 186(4) (commercial advantage) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 for contravening conditions applying to conditionally non-prohibited goods brought or imported into Australian territory.

“Illegally imported plant and animal material that is intentionally hidden from our biosecurity checks is a potential pathway for pests and diseases to establish in Australia,” Senator McKenzie said.

“Tasmania’s produce is coveted across the world for its clean, green, safe credentials that provides premium access to lucrative export markets.

“Any incursion would significantly impact Tasmania’s international reputation and market access as well as the incomes of farming families and regional communities.”

Garlic could carry Australia’s number one plant disease risk—Xylella fastidiosa—that affects more than 350 species of native, commercial and garden plants.

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