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Shipley's scaremongering flops again

Wednesday, 21 March 2001 Media Statement

Shipley's scaremongering flops again

Opposition leader Jenny Shipley's latest desperate attempt to discredit New Zealand's biosecurity services is typically without substance, says Cabinet minister Pete Hodgson.

Mr Hodgson answered questions from Mrs Shipley in Parliament today, on behalf of Acting Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton.

They concerned allegations from Wairarapa farmer Bev Seymour, who reportedly complained of inadequate checking of her luggage on her return to New Zealand from Britain.

Mrs Seymour's arrival card shows that she declared she was carrying food (" pkt biscuits Sainsbury's" handwritten on her card) and that she had been on a farm within the previous 30 days ("4 wks ago Dartmoor"). Mrs Seymour was spoken to by a risk assessment officer about her answers. She was then sent on through the red lane, where her luggage was x-rayed.

No items were seized from Mrs Seymour, given the four weeks that had elapsed since she had been on Dartmoor. That placed her on Dartmoor in the second week of February, when foot and mouth disease was not present in the area. The risk of the foot and mouth virus surviving four weeks on a pair of boots is negligible.

Mrs Seymour's reported claim that "everyone just got off that plane and walked straight through" was also inaccurate, Mr Hodgson said.

Seventeen passengers arriving in New Zealand on flight NZ1 on 17 March 2001 had items seized and fumigated or destroyed for biosecurity reasons, ranging from footwear to fresh produce. That did not count all those who had items inspected and returned to them.


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