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Labour protects people through better biosecurity

7 September 2005

Labour protects people through better biosecurity

Labour is committed to constantly enhancing the biosecurity system that protects New Zealand industry and citizens, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton launched the biosecurity policy alongside the party's rural affairs policy with Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor in Fairlie today.

Mr Sutton said effective biosecurity is essential to New Zealand.

"Our borders are constantly being tested by pests and diseases that could cause us severe environmental and economic damage, threaten our health and quality of life, and undermine our clean green image."

He said while the risks of diseases such as foot and mouth disease were reasonably well-known, many other pests and diseases also threatened our way of life.

"If red fire ants established here, the outside barbeque would lose its charm in a big way."

Mr Sutton said when Labour became government in December 1999, it found the biosecurity of New Zealand in an appalling state.

"We have moved decisively to address this situation. We are spending almost 60 per cent more on baseline biosecurity funding than previous governments. We introduced universal screening of air crew and passengers, mail and courier items, and sea containers, as well as improving surveillance. We introduced instant fines for biosecurity breaches at airports, and launched a Protect New Zealand public awareness campaign to alert people to the risks."

Mr Sutton said it was clear from the policy that Labour was committed to strong biosecurity, and was implementing a system of continual improvement.

ENDS


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