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Minister should explain differing Varroa stories

Shane Ardern MP
National Party Biosecurity Spokesman
20 July 2006

Minister should explain differing Varroa stories

Rural Affairs Minister Damien O’Connor should explain to Nelson beekeepers why he tells them the Government should ‘go for it’ and eradicate Varroa Bee Mite but tells Parliament a different story, says National Biosecurity spokesman Shane Ardern.

“Damien O’Connor confirmed yesterday that although only discovered in June this year, it is believed the bee mite had been in the upper South Island for nine or 10 months.

“Past experience has shown delays in getting ministerial and then Cabinet approval for funding meant eradication in the North Island was deemed impossible, yet now we have the same situation, and once again the beekeepers have to sit and wait at the Government’s convenience.

“I can understand waiting for reports from Biosecurity NZ, but what we are now waiting for is the Minister to return from his trip to Chile. Meanwhile, Damien O’Connor - who was so concerned in Nelson - has refused to step up and insist his Government take action now.

“Jim Anderton told the Primary Production Select Committee it was only a matter of time before the bee mite would reach the South Island.

“Surely the sensible and logical approach would have been to have a set of eradication plans and funding pre-approved so Biosecurity NZ could immediately swing into action.

“By the time we wait for Jim Anderton to return from his jaunt to South America and address the problem, the chances of eradication grow dimmer.

“This is yet another example of what is wrong with Biosecurity NZ. Bee experts believe eradication is possible, costing $6-$12 million - a pittance compared to the estimated $300 million cost if it takes over the South Island.”

ENDS

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