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Inspect all containers or kiss our economy goodbye

Media Statement For immediate release Thursday, 3 April, 2003

Baldock: inspect all containers or kiss our economy goodbye

New Zealand's biosecurity penny-pinching is a false economy that must end if New Zealand wants to have any economy left at all, United Future's Larry Baldock said today.

"It seems these days every creepy-crawly known to man is reaching our shores, and in large measure that is because we won't spend enough on keeping these things out," Mr Baldock, United Future's biosecurity spokesman, said in the wake of yesterday's Asian gypsy moth discovery in Hamilton.

"We have this Government saying it has spent an extra $20 million since the last election on biosecurity.

"Well if the results are crazy ants, gypsy moths and whatever else might be slipping through, the Government needs to know that this simply isn't enough.

"What price our economy? What will it cost this nation if it loses crop exports; if whole industries are wiped out?

"Well, I tell you this: it will cost us a huge amount more than the extra $90 million it would cost to check every container that comes to our shores ... that figure will pale into insignificance beside the losses we stand to bear as a nation if we don't get serious about protecting our borders from pests," he said.

Last year MAF inspected just 24 percent of high-risk containers, then randomly selected a further 5 to 10 percent for internal inspection.

Initial checks on some 1500 containers found just five foreign spiders and three insects. A re-check of those containers for the purposes of a survey turned up 124 spiders and 71 insects.

"Surely this tells us we need to get serious about biosecurity and that we're simply not doing enough," Mr Baldock said.

There was also a considerable social and health cost to eradication efforts once pests were here, he said.

"I am sure Hamilton residents would not look forward to any aerial spraying for the gypsy moth such as has been inflicted upon the residents of West Auckland in order to eradicate the painted apple moth."


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