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Biosecurity importance missed by the Opposition

Media Statement

12 September 2005

Biosecurity importance missed by the Opposition

It is ironic that the National Party's little helpers, the Exclusive Brethren, are concerned about biosecurity when the National Party is not, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said when the National Party were last in Government, there were gaping holes in the biosecurity system, which saw the destructive varroa mite establish here and the painted apple moth invade.

"They had international airports with no biosecurity screening, and let sea containers in willy-nilly. We were incredibly lucky not to have a foot and mouth disease outbreak in the 1990s."

Mr Sutton said the Labour-Progressive Government increased baseline biosecurity funding by about 60 per cent since becoming Government in December 1999.

"We've made screening of air passengers and crew 100 per cent, we've put soft-tissue x-ray machines at all international airports, and we've increased staffing at airports and in head office to ensure that vulnerabilities can be plugged. We introduced screening of all sea containers as well all mail and courier packs, and have increased surveillance throughout the country."

Mr Sutton said the Government was committed to good biosecurity, and was continually working to improve its systems, as its actions over the past five years showed.

"I challenge opposition parties to do the same, and to confirm they will ringfence biosecurity from any state sector funding cuts."

Mr Sutton said there was only one way to ensure biosecurity measures were maintained and enhanced to keep New Zealand free from new pests and diseases ? keep Labour as the Government.

ENDS

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