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Government Must Wake Up To Foot And Mouth Threat

ACT Agriculture Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said the Government must immediately drop its “she’ll be right” attitude to border controls during the current foot and mouth emergency.

“The Hon Pete Hodgson told Parliament earlier this week that security had been increased after the outbreak in the UK, but he also displayed a dangerously complacent attitude and, I believe, a misplaced faith, in existing procedures.

“Stories I am hearing suggest existing procedures are not adequate at all and we are running a serious risk of the disease getting into this country.

“I have been told by one of the country’s biggest stock and station agents that one of their customers has just returned from a trip to Scotland where he had played golf. He brought his clubs back with him – and declared the full details of where he had been. Officials at the airport didn’t even bother to check his golf clubs and accepted without checking, his explanation that a pair of new golfing shoes he had with him were indeed unused.

“This is just not good enough. MAF officials and the Government are showing callous indifference to the dangers. I don’t think the public has the remotest idea of the dangers we face, but the public should know, because it is people ignorant of the risks who could unwittingly bring the disease here.

“As a farmer myself I’m very concerned about what might happen. The Government needs to drop the cavalier attitude, admit there is a risk and immediately launch a widespread public education campaign. Further, our border surveillance must be stepped up and MAF shaken out of its apparent complacency.

“There is no room for complacency when we are talking about something which is a direct threat to our $7.5 billion of meat and dairy exports. It is time for the Government and MAF to get real,” Mr Eckhoff said.


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