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Anderton addresses biosecurity issues

11 May 2006

Anderton addresses biosecurity issues with freight at Custom Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation AGM

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity, Jim Anderton addressed the Custom Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation (CBAFF) AGM in Wellington today on the issues of what increased freight volume means for New Zealand.

"We are just as much a nation dependent on freight as any other developed country. In fact, it was the emergence of refrigerated shipping over a century ago that transformed New Zealand. Freight changed this country and gave us a century of prosperity. Unheard of low-cost products could be shipped around the world economically. Loading loose cargo onto an average ship in 1956 cost $5.86 per US ton and now container ports now can load vessels for just under 16 cents per ton.

"Freight in New Zealand – and around the world - is growing - partly because our economy has grown so strongly over the last 6 years. Over half a million sea containers were shipped to New Zealand in 2004-5. That's 75 per cent more than five years before. Air travel is up very strongly too. There were more than four million passengers and crew who flew to New Zealand in 2004-5, a third more than in 2000.

There are new airlines and new flights from Asia, the Middle East and South America. So because transport issues are so important, we have to make sure we get our systems working right and that includes our biosecurity systems", Jim Anderton said .

"As people and goods move in and out of New Zealand at ever-faster speeds, new threats will emerge across all sectors. Nature is not standing still. Every few years, completely new diseases appear in the world. We've seen BSE, Avian Influenza, AIDS and SARS for example. As we've seen with the Varroa Bee mite, these diseases can become major biosecurity threats. Our biosecurity is under pressure as a result.

"That's an issue for all of us. We rely on trade and travel for out future prosperity and well-being. So we rely on our biosecurity systems. Our experts say New Zealand's biosecurity system leads the world. But that's not enough. Our performance across the system needs to lift, even further.

"As a sector with a close interest in trade and the factors affected by our biosecurity system, I would like to acknowledge the contribution the CBAFF members already make. I want to assure you the government is committed to making our systems work as well as they can for all stakeholders.

"The government is in the process of adopting a single decision-making process that will cover the end-to-end biosecurity system. This should lead to better, more consistent decisions and make the basis for MAF's policies more clear. And we'll ensure that the interests of businesses that rely on our biosecurity as well as those dealing with biosecurity are protected," Jim Anderton said in Wellington today.

ENDS

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