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Labour Launches Biosecurity Policy

Thu, 18 Jul 2002

Labour Launches Biosecurity Policy

Effective biosecurity is essential to New Zealand, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Labour had recognised that during this term of Government and had implemented the toughest biosecurity and border controls in the world, he said.

"We intend to continue that, if elected again."

Mr Sutton said that Labour's biosecurity policy, released today, demonstrated that commitment to maintaining New Zealand's environment.

"Our record on biosecurity is good. Labour implemented the $200 instant fine for biosecurity breaches, and tightened border controls so that New Zealand is now the only country in the world to screen 100 per cent of all mail, passenger, and aircrew baggage. We significantly increased biosecurity funding."

He said that Labour would review the $200 instant fine with a view to lifting it to increase the deterrent factor, and would act on the findings of a research study on how to improve sea freight biosecurity.

"Biosecurity is important for New Zealand, and all citizens have a part to play in maintaining our borders."

Mr Sutton emphasised that any biosecurity policy had to be realistic though.

"Threatening to hang people for breaches of biosecurity, as the National Party's agriculture spokesman did yesterday, is just silly. Many people getting off international flights are tired, incapacitated, or unable to communicate because of infirmity or language problems. I do not think flogging them, hanging them, or putting them in prison for life for an overlooked apple is going to help New Zealand any."

Mr Herlihy told the Federated Farmers national conference in Christchurch yesterday that he "won't be happy until the rest of the world understands that breaches of our biosecurity laws is as dangerous for visitors coming to New Zealand as carrying drugs is to Malaysia is".

Mr Sutton said that it was possible to have the tightest biosecurity controls in the world and still have a vibrant and dynamic tourism sector, as Labour had demonstrated.

"Mr Herlihy has not explained to the country ? or to the National Party and its biosecurity spokesman Eric Roy - why he feels it necessary to introduce capital punishment. Such an explanation would be welcome, especially given that the previous Government refused even to introduce instant fines to punish people who breached our biosecurity.

"MAF figures show that 9630 infringements have been issued at airports across New Zealand for biosecurity breaches in the first year - $1.9 million in instant fines. If Mr Herlihy had his way, the National Party's state-appointed executioner would have been busy, and he would have decimated the Australian rugby league team and knocked off our own top schoolboy golfer.

"The people of New Zealand deserve better. This Clark-led Government has put a lot of thought into its biosecurity policy, as with all its policies. This issue is too important for silly political stunts."

Office of Hon Jim Sutton

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