NZ: Government could be liable for NZ$800M in damages in Kiwifruit Claim

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NZ: Government could be liable for NZ$800M in damages in Kiwifruit Claim

Successful claimants in the kiwifruit lawsuit against the government for negligence in allowing the devastating Psa virus into New Zealand say they concur with acting Prime Minister Winston Peters' estimate of up to NZ$800 million (US$540 million) of liability, local media ODT reported.

The disease infected 80% of kiwifruit orchards nationwide after first being discovered in New Zealand in 2010 and is estimated to have cost the industry up to NZ$1 billion in lost exports.

The growers' group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than NZ$376 million (US$255 million) in compensation. Last month, the court backed the Kiwifruit Claim in the first stage of the trial and found the crown breached its duty of care to growers.

The second stage of the trial will determine the level of costs incurred and compensation, although it is unclear when that will occur.

The government has until the end of next week to decide whether to appeal the High Court judgment from the first stage, the article reported.

On Monday, Peters reportedly said the government did not have the money to increase its pay offer to nurses, who went on strike for 24 hours on Thursday, citing the cost of Psa as one reason.

"Two things out of left field we've inherited as a government: mycoplasma bovis and its consequences, which will probably be in excess of $800 million, Psa which we've also inherited and those legal cases and our liabilities would put us somewhere between $500 to $800 million as well," Peters was quoted as saying.

Kiwifruit Claim chair John Cameron agreed the Government could be liable for that much and said losses "are accumulating every year".

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