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Action As Well As Talk Needed On Biosecurity

The Green Party today said action on improving the nation's biosecurity could not be put on ice for the next two years while a biosecurity strategy was developed.

"Developing a comprehensive biosecurity strategy is a good idea, but we have to take action now to improve our biosecurity at the same time," said Green Party biosecurity spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street.

"We don't need a strategy to tell us that there is a current biosecurity crisis. Just reading a newspaper regularly tells us that unwanted snakes, bee mites, moths, and invasive seaweed are coming into the country and putting our primary production at risk."

Mr Ewen-Street said the most effective way to improve biosecurity would be to step up inspection of containers, machinery and used cars.

"It is very important that there is money in the budget for these measures. We knowingly let contaminated containers into the country, because we inspect only 25 per cent of containers despite a contamination rate of nearly 40 per cent.

Mr Ewen-Street said a biosecurity strategy would need to put in place a system that gives importers a real incentive to make sure cars, containers and machinery are clean before they arrive.

"Any contaminated cargo which enters the country should immediately be decontaminated or sent back to the point of origin at the importer's cost, and all second-hand imported cars should have to be cleaned before they enter the country," he said.

Mr Ewen-Street welcomed $1.7 million of budget funding in the next year to be spent on marine biosecurity.

"Spending more money on marine biosecurity will help protect our ecosystem and fisheries. The tubeworm, which is smothering scallops and other organisms in the Hauraki Gulf and the sea around Northland, is an example of the devastation caused if unwanted organisms get established here."

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726 or 025 902 527 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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