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Government slack on border controls

05 March 2001

Government slack on border controls

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley today demanded far tighter border controls to protect New Zealand's interests against the increasing risk of foot and mouth posed by the United Kingdom and European outbreak.

"New Zealanders are alarmed by the slack approach taken by the current Government and want action," Mrs Shipley said in Dunedin today opening a rural tour of Otago and Canterbury by National MPs this week.

"All travellers from infected areas in the UK should be required to enter disinfectant foot baths on arrival at New Zealand airports until the situation is bought under control," Mrs Shipley said.

"International shearers are reporting slackened border controls in the past year. Their gear hasn't been fumigated at the border when they entered New Zealand airports. New Zealand can't afford to let border controls slip in this way and instead should be going the other way to tighten controls.

"The Government must do anything it can and at any cost to prevent the disease entering our borders and threatening our agricultural industries," Mrs Shipley said.

Foot and mouth has jumped the Irish Sea and is suspected to have crossed the English Channel to France and the North Sea to Belgium and Denmark.

"It is very clear there is a huge constituency, both urban and rural, in New Zealand who perceive the Government is not doing enough to keep our country safe from the virus," Mrs Shipley said.

"I have been appalled at the slack approach being taken by Jim Sutton and the Government on this issue. Reports by international shearers that they were able to enter New Zealand without scrutiny at the border reinforces the claim that Government is not taking this issue seriously. They must now act.

"The scare is most alarming because so many New Zealanders visit rural UK.

"I also seek assurances from the Prime Minister that measures are being taken here in New Zealand to ensure that no extremist animal rights activists will have any opportunity to pose a threat to us, given reports from the UK over the weekend that they may have been involved in the spread, " Mrs Shipley said.

Ends

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