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Nutters at the Border

Import News from the Importers Institute
28 May 2001 - Nutters at the Border

Hands up those who are against biosecurity. No, I didn't think there would be any. Biosecurity is a no-brainer - everyone agrees on the basic aims. But do they?

[This article is based on an address to sector group representatives and border protection officials.]

Some of the most vocal advocates of biosecurity demand the abortion of calves involved in a medical genetic research project and advocate a tax on animal flatulence. This is code for the destruction of New Zealand's economic base.

These people have, quite simply, a deindustrialisation agenda. The McDonalds krystallnachters have a romantic vision of a simpler life with no pollution (and no dentists) that they would like to impose on the rest of us. In a most caring way, naturally.

Nutters will always be with us. So, does it matter what they think? It matters because the New Zealand government is politically beholden to them.

The government rejected the principal recommendation of a non-political independent review of border protection: that we should have a single border protection agency. The Green nutters didn't like that, for some unexplained reason (they are never big on reason). Labour was pleased to oblige.

So, on matters of border protection, nutters do matter, especially when the interests of luddites and bureaucrats coincide. American tourists will soon learn that the only way to reach "100% Pure" clean/green New Zealand is to spend 12 hours cooped up inside a plane that was thoroughly dunked in insecticide.

Perhaps this is really necessary - although other countries with important agricultural and horticultural sectors seem to do okay without it.

Then we have the perennial calls for "user pays" of border protection "services." Whenever politicians start running out of other people's money to fund their favourite symphony orchestra, they look to the border as a prospective cash cow. Border protection, like policing and defence (but unlike elite music) is one area where the need for public expenditure is undisputed.

Government and officials are looking for a border protection 'vision'. The Importers Institute is sorry, but it does not share in this endeavour. Border protection is not a high mission, a calling or even a vocation - it is just a job. Someone has to do it and several departments are, by and large, doing it quite well - despite all the political nutters around them.

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