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Law change necessary for all New Zealand

Law change necessary for all New Zealand

Parliamentary scrutiny has determined that the bill to resolve biosecurity problems identified by the courts should go ahead, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said today.

He thanked the Primary Production Select Committee for its work. The select committee reported back to Parliament its unanimous support for the bill yesterday.

“Last year’s Court of Appeal judgment on MAF’s Australian honey import health standard makes the management of biosecurity risks at the border unworkable in light of some technical drafting issues between the Biosecurity and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The Government has decided to amend the Biosecurity Act and the HSNO Act so that they operate as Parliament intended.”

Jim Anderton said the legislative amendments were required urgently because MAF has had to suspend issuing new or amending existing import health standards.

“This is causing disruption to trade and frustration for our trading partners, importers, and primary producers.

“The Government considers it needs to move quickly to clarify the legislative framework for managing new organisms and resolve the problems created by the Court of Appeal decision, including validating existing import health standards.”

Jim Anderton said the changes would make it clear that organisms imported incidentally in or on traded goods will be managed under the Biosecurity Act. Intentionally imported new organisms will continue to be managed under the HSNO Act.

“There will be no change to the way genetically modified new organisms are managed. All genetically modified new organisms will still require a HSNO Act approval prior to being imported.”

Jim Anderton said the whole biosecurity system was based on scientific analysis and free from political interference.

“We spend a lot of time and resources working to make the rest of the international trade system to operate in that way too.”

However, he said, that the Government was aware of concerns that the timeframe for consideration of the Bill had been too short, particularly from the beekeeping industry.

“In recognition of that, the director-general of MAF is to offer an independent review of MAF’s interpretation of the science under dispute around P. alvei in relation to the import health standard for Australian honey. The Bill will prevent the importation of honey from Australia for 90 days to allow an independent panel of experts to conduct the review.”

Jim Anderton said the opportunity for further review of significant import health standards would be passed into law so that in the future, there continued to be another level of checks available.

“The Labour-Progressive Government takes biosecurity seriously. Decisions on import health standards are made on the basis of rigorous science. However, it is important that citizens and industry groups have confidence in the biosecurity system, so another layer of checks and balances is to be added for significant or difficult cases.”


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