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Greens welcome more dollars for biosecurity

12 March 2001

Greens welcome more dollars for biosecurity

Green Party MP Ian Ewen-Street today said he was pleased with an extra $4.5 million of spending on protecting New Zealand's borders.

"The Greens have long said New Zealand's borders were woefully underprotected and that is why, in our last Green Budget Package, we contributed $2.7 million towards further border controls measures," he said.

"Recent developments show our concerns about biosecurity were very well founded and we are pleased this money is being spent on biosecurity awareness campaigns at a time when our clean green reputation is under a very serious threat."

Mr Ewen-Street said the extra money to pay for more sniffer dogs, staff and x-ray machines was desperately needed and he believed the extra funding would compliment Green initiatives in the field of biosecurity education and increased interception of biosecurity risks through imported containers.

"These combined measures will make a real difference in helping protect our borders," he said.

"The Greens believe that the real defence issue must rest with the defence of our borders and if we are to protect our unique biodiversity and our clean, green image upon which we trade heavily then we must be ever vigilant," he said.

"We applaud the Government for today's announcement but also feel that because our border control systems have been so underfunded for so many years there was no real choice for the Government in this decision."

Mr Ewen-Street said over the coming weeks he would be pushing the Government to follow Australia's lead and ban the import of Californian table grapes after a small insect - the glassy winged sharpshooter - was devastating California's wine and grape industry.

"Continuing to import Californian grapes could seriously threaten New Zealand's huge viticulture industry on the same scale that Foot and Mouth could threaten our agriculture industry," he said.

"The Greens believe policing our borders effectively is only half the battle. The other half lies in what we routinely allow into this country through free trade. Currently this is far too much."

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726, 025 902 527 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090

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