Instant Fines To Be Implemented Early
Instant fines for passengers bringing prohibited food and plant matter into New Zealand would be implemented from June 18, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Mr Sutton told a session at the TRENZ conference in Christchurch this afternoon that biosecurity and border controls measures were vital for New Zealand's continued well-being, because of our reliance on agriculture.
"It's what we make most of our money from. Two-thirds of our export earnings come from animals, fruit and vegetables, and timber, and from processed products of those.
"New Zealand, as an island a long way away from anywhere else, doesn't have a lot of natural pests or diseases - so when something makes its way here - say Asian gypsy moth - potentially it has a huge effect."
Mr Sutton said the Labour-Alliance Government recognised that and had put a significant amount of extra funding into biosecurity and border controls.
As well as a public awareness campaign about the importance of border controls and the risks of foot and mouth disease and other pests and diseases, extra money has been spent on new x-ray machines and detector dogs. New Zealand is now the only country in the world to screen 100 per cent of mail, baggage, and passengers.
The instant fine regime, which was to come into force on July 1, has been accelerated and now comes into force on June 18.
"The recent heightened awareness of the importance of biosecurity meant there was no point in delay, once staff were trained and ready to implement the new enforcement regime."
Mr Sutton urged foreign journalists and other conference participants to tell everyone they met and in every article they wrote that New Zealand was serious about its border controls for good reason.
"We have a lot to protect in New Zealand."
Office of Hon Jim Sutton