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Fast-track turns out to be slow-lane

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

13 March 2001

Fast-track turns out to be slow-lane

The Government's spin about fast-tracking instant fines for biosecurity breaches has been exposed as a lie, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"National amended the Biosecurity Act in 1999, paving the way for instant fines to be imposed on passengers with undeclared goods.

"Cabinet papers obtained under the OIA shows that in February 2000 MAF pushed for instant fines to be introduced. But the Government couldn't find the small amount of money required to make that change.

"It took until December 2000 for Labour to approve the implementation of instant fines, effective from July 1 2001.

"Then yesterday Jim Sutton announced that instant fines had been fast-tracked, and announced exactly the same date for their introduction - July 1 2001.

"This is farcical spin from the Government. In the meantime the country has been exposed to on-going risks, without any system of instant fines for the more than 2,000 people a month who arrive in New Zealand with undeclared goods.

"The Government has neglected border control and is now playing a high stakes game of catch-up. We can only hope that our agricultural sector doesn't end up paying the price for this Government's tardiness," Mrs Shipley said.


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