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Sutton wrong to deny 100 per cent inspection

Sutton wrong to deny 100 per cent inspection

Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton is wrong to reject 100 per cent inspection of shipping containers, as it is essential to protect our borders from pest incursions, Green Party MP Ian Ewen-Street said today.

Mr Sutton told a Federated Farmers meeting in Wellington today, that there was no 'silver bullet' for stopping the import of pests and diseases on shipping containers, and that throwing ever-increasing amounts of money at the problem could not make our border impervious. "Searching every container - even if it were logistically possible, which it is not - would not make it so," Mr Sutton said in speech notes.

Mr Ewen-Street said today that 100 per cent inspection of incoming sea containers was not only possible, it was necessary - following the ever-increasing numbers of agriculture and forestry pests sneaking into New Zealand by this route.

"One pest alone, such as the Asian Gypsy Moth, has the potential to wreak economic havoc on this country's primary production sector. The Government must commit the funds - immediately - to setting up inspection teams at all the sea container-unloading sites," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"The teams would have to be neutral, fully resourced, and trained to open and thoroughly inspect every single container that goes to the unloading centres.

"This must not be the responsibility of the company unloading the container, as they have a conflict of interest. They need to move goods as quickly as possible, rather than slowing them down by doing biosecurity inspections. However, this is a necessary inconvenience," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"We also need to introduce an absolute, cast-iron requirement that we have 100 per cent offshore inspection of agricultural machinery, cars and tyres. We know these are a big risk for carrying pests, so we should be giving them particular attention," Mr Ewen-Street said.

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