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Tons Of Pests Crossing Our Borders

Tons Of Pests Crossing Our Borders

ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff today slammed the Labour Government's `open door' and `wander at will' policy for unwanted pests, organisms and products, in light of new information showing that more than four tons of unwanted material has entered the country over the past three years.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show that 1,704kgs of fruit fly host material entered New Zealand between 1999 and 2002. Add to that more than three tons of unwanted meat and poultry products, and it is not hard to see that we are headed for catastrophe," Mr Eckhoff said.

"The arrival of these products - as well as the organisms they carry - poses considerable risk to our rural economy. While the Government worries over Gypsy and Painted Apple Moths, it seems not to worry about the far greater threats posed by plum pox disease and foot-and-mouth.

"Rural New Zealand drives our economy, yet the Government seems loath to protect its interests. New Zealand's borders have become an open door for unwanted organisms over the past three years, through which flows a stream of undetected pests.

"With the Budget to be released next month, it is time for the Government to reassess its priorities. Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton has the opportunity to redeem himself as the representative of rural New Zealand.

"I am calling on the Minister to ensure provision within the Budget to double efforts to efforts to stop unwanted pests. Anything less would be unacceptable. Airport personal security measures for external flights may be necessary, but a similar effort is needed to inspect the incoming containers that present a far greater threat to New Zealand's economic future," Mr Eckhoff said.

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