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Minister welcomes sea container report

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

24 May 2006 Media Statement

Minister welcomes sea container report

Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton today welcomed the Auditor-General’s report on high-risk sea containers, saying the recommendations were practical and helpful.

The report, Managing Biosecurity Risks Associated With High-Risk Sea Containers, was tabled in Parliament today. It examined how the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) identifies and manages the biosecurity risks associated with ‘high-risk’ sea containers – those with a higher than average probability of being contaminated with pests and diseases, those with incomplete or missing import documentation or prohibited packaging material.

Mr Anderton was pleased the report did not identify any critical biosecurity risk issues in the importation of sea containers. The report recommended further enforcement of the Import Health Standard (HIS) in the areas of audit and compliance and container tracking after arrival, and improved systems and processes to manage the sea container pathway.

“These recommendations are reasonable and MAF has already been working on many of them,” said Mr Anderton. However, Mr Anderton said it needed to be considered in the context of a 57 per cent increase in imported sea containers since 2000-01 and the gaps apparent in the regime that operated prior to the introduction of the IHS.

“In moving from the lacklustre risk-management of sea containers, which this Government inherited, to the Import Health Standard introduced in 2004 we set ourselves an ambitious task, precisely when import volumes were rapidly rising. The Auditor-General has noted the difficulty MAF has faced in meeting the implementation timetable. MAF recognises there is room for improvements in implementing the standard, and it is useful to get a reminder of that,” he said.

Mr Anderton said a review of the ‘General Facilities for Holding, Inspection, Processing or Treatment of Imported Risk Goods’ Operational Standard will be released for consultation later this year, along with a new Inspection Standard for these facilities. The Import Health Standard for Sea Containers will be reviewed in 2006-07, and a Container Task Force to enable wide and effective consultation with key stakeholders will be set up by the end of 2006. New cost regulations will enable more effective auditing.

“The key message is that MAF is continuing to improve the administration of the current sea container requirements and will be working harder to ensure people comply with them,” Mr Anderton said.


ENDS

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