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Auditor-General gives Govt second wakeup call

Shane Ardern MP
National Party Biosecurity Spokesman
24 May 2006

Auditor-General gives Govt second wakeup call

National Biosecurity spokesman Shane Ardern told Parliament today the Auditor-General’s report on high-risk containers explains why there have been 229 biosecurity incursions in the last five years.

”This report, the second wakeup call from the Auditor-General on biosecurity, shows worrying gaps in our border control.

“About half a million sea containers are imported each year.

“The report shows that Import Health Standards are not implemented, that our processes for dealing with sea containers arriving without a quarantine declaration or with an incorrect quarantine declaration are inconsistent, and that we need better assurances that pest fumigation is effective.

“Other criticisms include that offences relating to importing sea containers are rarely pursued with a prosecution, and it was more common to send an educational letter to the person investigated or take no action.

“This is despite a recommendation by the Auditor-General in 2002 that there be instant fines for offenders.

“At the frontline, the Auditor-General found that inspectors training is inconsistent throughout the country, there is no written guidance on what to do when contamination is found, documents used to guide staff are not up to date, and inspectors are not subject to ongoing competency assessment.

“How many more Auditor-General reports like this on biosecurity do there have to be, before the Minister and this Government takes action?

“Our borders are vulnerable. The Minister needs to fix it and fix it now. For the first time in his life Jim Anderton cannot waffle his way out of trouble.”

ENDS

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