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Report Pinpoints Biosecurity Weaknesses

14 December 2000

The Greens strongly concur with the finding of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that current biosecurity measures cannot provide "the level of protection needed".

The report 'New Zealand under Siege' released today recognises that biosecurity is as important as national security, and recommends it receive increased funding and priority.

Green MP and biosecurity spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said he completely agreed with the commissioner that a contingency fund should be set up for eradication or control of potential invaders such as the Asian gypsy moth or the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

"The scramble to find money to deal with a biosecurity incursion is time-consuming and distracting," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"If we think that biosecurity is as important as national security, then raising money to repel invaders after they arrive would be like trying to collect the money to buy ammunition while invading soldiers are raising flags on our beaches."

Mr Ewen-Street said he believed the report would be a valuable resource for the Minister of Biosecurity, and urged her to implement the recommendations to improve New Zealand's biosecurity.

"We may have the best biosecurity in the world, but this report recognises that global comparisons are completely irrelevant - because with our unique biodiversity and farming-based economy we have more at stake than anyone else.

"I salute the commissioner in putting forward the 'values-based' argument that New Zealand should "support 'safe trade' as opposed to 'free trade'" in order to protect what remains of our indigenous ecological habitats.

"The costs of cleaning up after biosecurity breaches is one of the hidden costs of free trade," he said.


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