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Greens concerned at inaction over biosecurity

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was alarmed that the government had no plans to tighten biosecurity controls following the finding of a highly venomous snake in Petone this week.

A female Eastern Brown snake, the most dangerous snake in Australia and one of the most poisonous in the world, was discovered near containers in a Petone worksite. It is possible but unproven that the snake may have laid eggs.

In response to a parliamentary question to the Minister for Biosecurity this afternoon the government replied that less than one snake per year was discovered in New Zealand and announced no plans to tighten border control procedures.

"I am extremely disappointed at the cavalier approach of the government to this issue," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Given that only around five per cent of the 350,000 containers coming into New Zealand per year are fully searched, how does the government know how many snakes are entering this country?

"If this sort of regime remains at our borders it will be only be a matter of time before we will have to fear for our safety when walking in our parks and forests. Alongside one more threat to our endangered native birds, that would be a shame for every New Zealander," she said.

"The previous government's constant promotion of free trade has seriously increased the risk of foreign pests and disease entering New Zealand and that government did little to reduce that risk. I still hope the new government can be persuaded to take it more seriously."

Ends

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary) 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

Background material on the Eastern Brown snake is available from the Green offices

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