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Strawberry needles disaster: saboteurs could face 10 years in jail under new laws

THE Federal Government will introduce a new law which could see someone thrown in jail for up to 10 years in a bid to stop the widespread contamination with needles and pins of the nation’s strawberry crop.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, labelling those behind the mass adulteration of fruit as “grubs” and “cowards”, said Parliament would continue sitting this week until it passed a new law targeting “reckless behaviour”.

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In addition, penalties relating to existing adulteration behaviour would be increased to 15 years from 10 years.

Mr Morrison said the spread of actions in all States needed tougher laws immediately.

“Some idiot, for his own reasons, or her own reasons, has engaged in an act of sabotage, it would seem, that has put all of that at risk for these people just out there having a go,” he said.

“And not only that, mums and dads and their kids have been put in the position of having a real concerns and, indeed, fears. It’s not on.”

Mr Morrison said he hoped the penalties, on top of actions by the State Governments, would help encourage people back to buying strawberries and other fruit.

“If Australians can just go back to loving the strawberries and buying strawberries, of course taking the necessary precautions, then I would urge them to do that and be careful how they go about it,” he said.

“The clear message is this, this is not on. This is just not on this country.”

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