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Simple solution to shipping incursions

Simple solution to shipping incursions

The Government must start inspecting all ship containers arriving in New Zealand, following MAF's admission today of difficulties in its handling of the skeletoniser moth invasion, Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said.

"The Government is already spending $90 million on the painted apple moth programme, and faces an unknown bill for getting rid of the skeletoniser moth and other invasive pests.

"It would make much more sense to spend $60 million a year on 100 per cent inspection of all incoming sea containers. Prevention at the border has the potential to save this country millions of dollars in the longer run," Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Party's biosecurity spokesperson said.

"MAF Biosecurity does well at airports and the international mail centre, but it inspects only 24 per cent of sea containers. When you realise there are 400,000 containers a year, this opens a huge pathway for alien species to enter the country.

"Thanks to MAF's incompetence, which is well known on the painted apple moth, and has now been alluded to on the skeletoniser moth, taxpayers have had to commit to costly eradication campaigns that may not even work," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"It's not just the moths - which alone have the potential to destroy forestry and conservation estates. There is also the southern saltmarsh mosquito, the tropical grass webworm, black widow spiders, various snakes - the list goes on. These pests have all found it much too easy to cruise into this country undetected.

"The Government has no more excuses. It's time to toughen up our shipping inspections," he said.

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