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New Zealanders Part Of The Problem: Sutton

More than 40 per cent of all people entering New Zealand with undeclared food and other risk goods are New Zealanders, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said he was concerned about comment indicating only foreigners were to blame for bringing risky food products into the country.

"That's just not true."

New Zealanders were just as likely to be guilty of bringing in dangerous products, he said.

MAF Quarantine figures indicate that 42 per cent of all passengers found with undeclared risk goods are New Zealanders.

"If foot and mouth disease or some other devastating disease or agricultural pest makes it into New Zealand, this is probably the way it will happen.

"I know some people are advocating instantly deporting anyone who brings in undeclared risk products? but where do we send the 67 New Zealanders a day who do that? Some former Soviet Union gulag in Siberia?

Mr Sutton said it was horrifying that 12,305 New Zealanders had tried to smuggle in risk food products during the six months from July till December last year.

"New Zealand is always at threat from foot and mouth disease. It is widespread in Asia, Africa, and South America. But there are many other diseases and pests that would also devastate our economy if they got here."

Two public awareness campaigns are planned to heighten New Zealanders' understanding of biosecurity risks and how to minimise them. One, aimed solely at foot and mouth disease, will start shortly, and the other, on wider biosecurity risks, will begin later in the year.

Mr Sutton said the Labour-Alliance Government was committed to strong border controls, as shown by the $2.79 million allocated in last year's Budget and the $4.6 million allocated two weeks ago.

Ends

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