THE Senate has ordered Joe Ludwig to produce a swag of documents that allowed New Zealand apple imports into Australia.
It is the first time in 90 years that New Zealand apples have been imported into Australia.
But the Agriculture Minister has hinted he's unlikely to accede, arguing his department can't gather them all in time.
Opposition senator Richard Colbeck today successfully moved a motion ordering the government to produce audit reports and a host of other files relating to the import approval which was granted in August.
Senator Colbeck said the government had promised to provide them during a briefing last week, only to later rescind the offer.
"So this is the only mechanism available to us to actually gather the information," he told the upper house.
The motion, which has no legal force, calls on the government to supply copies of its audit reports, provide the qualification details of who did them, how it assessed traceability, inspections, rejected consignments and so on.
Senator Ludwig opposed the motion, saying Biosecurity Australia had held a public consultation before Kiwi apples were allowed in, but stakeholders had not raised "any issue of substance".
"On this issue, the government is always happy to try and meet the expectations of the opposition in providing relevant documents, but the time frame is very, very narrow," he said.
"It is unlikely that we will be able to provide those resources for that task in that short period of time."
Senator Colbeck wants the documents by the close of business on October 6 so he and a coalition delegation can have them in hand when they visit New Zealand next month.
He and opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb are planning a three-day visit to investigate issues relating to the apple importation.
It is the second time Senator Colbeck has moved a similar motion on apples.
A spokeswoman from his office said the first order was not fully fulfilled, with Senator Ludwig explaining that some documents were confidential, others were still being prepared, and others that had been asked for did not exist.