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Labour On Biosecurity

Labour On Biosecurity

Effective biosecurity is essential to New Zealand. Our borders are constantly being tested by organisms that could cause us severe environmental and economic damage, threaten our health and quality of life, and undermine our clean green image.

Introduced animal and plant pests, for example possums and gorse, have already degraded our biodiversity and natural heritage and caused costly problems for our primary industries. Preventing further incursions is far less expensive than eradicating, controlling or accepting pests once they are established in New Zealand.

Biosecurity risks to New Zealand have grown significantly with increases in overseas travel, visitor arrivals, and trade volumes. Global warming may make the situation worse by expanding the range of areas where potential pests can survive.

When Labour formed a government in 1999, we found the biosecurity of this country in an appalling state. We have moved decisively to address this situation.

Biosecurity is a collective responsibility of New Zealanders because it benefits us all. It is therefore appropriate that taxpayers share in the cost of that protection.

LABOUR’S ACHIEVEMENTS

In its first term, the Labour led government has:

- Significantly increased biosecurity funding.

- Upgraded border controls, so that New Zealand is now the only country in the world where all postal items, aircrew and passenger baggage are screened by x-ray and detector dogs.

- Commissioned research to improve biosecurity measures for sea freight, especially containers.

- Introduced $200 instant fines for biosecurity border breaches.

- Ensured that biosecurity videos are screened on all international flights entering New Zealand.

- Launched the Protect New Zealand biosecurity awareness campaign.

- Increased funding for pest control.

- Evaluated the risks associated with used vehicle imports and issued a new import health standard.

- Initiated development of a Biosecurity Strategy for New Zealand. A draft will be available for public consultation soon. The strategy is expected to identify areas where our biosecurity programme may be enhanced.

LABOUR: WORKING FOR TOMORROW, TODAY 1 BIOSECURITY

- Taken decisive action in response to new incursions and attempted eradication wherever technically possible (for example, red fire ants and crazy ants).

- Provided the Department of Conservation with $187 million over five years to protect New Zealand biodiversity.

- Initiated development of regulations to minimize risks associated with hull fouling and ballast water discharges.

LABOUR’S PRIORITIES

Labour will:

- Continue to review and strengthen border control measures, our surveillance ability, and our capacity to fight incursions.

- Review the level of the $200 instant fine for making a false biosecurity declaration and raise it when and if we determine this will be effective in increasing public cooperation.

- Complete and act on the findings of the research project aimed at upgrading biosecurity measures for sea freight.

- Maintain an integrated educational programme to raise New Zealand public and overseas visitor awareness of the importance of biosecurity and biosecurity precautions.

- Seek to develop, in partnership with Australia and the South Pacific island states, a regional biosecurity programme to minimise the risk of new alien species invasions within the South Pacific-Oceania region.

- Ensure ongoing funding of the Biodiversity Strategy, including providing sufficient funding to the Department of Conservation to ensure effective control of pests across the public conservation estate.

- Ensure through the Biosecurity Council the development of a national biosecurity policy containing priorities and programmes for the eradication and sustained control of existing and potential pests and diseases by government agencies, to complement the biosecurity programmes of regional councils.

- Continuously review existing legislation and policy to identify deficiencies which may compromise biosecurity objectives, and put a greater emphasis on freshwater and marine biosecurity.

- Take strong action, especially in relation to standards for ballast water discharge and hull fouling, to prevent the biological pollution of our coastal waters by vessels.


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