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Biosecurity bill passing vital for NZ industries

3 April 2008 Media Statement

Biosecurity bill passing vital for NZ industries

The passing of the Biosecurity and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Legislation Amendment Bill by Parliament this afternoon was a relief for many, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said.

Jim Anderton said the urgency surrounding the new Bill was justified.

He said the implications of last year's Court of Appeal decision were serious and it lead to the freeze on issuing any new import health standards under the Biosecurity Act and also on amending any existing standards.

That had real implications for many industries in New Zealand. For example, the import health standard for horses coming from Australia needs to be changed to take into account the equine influenza outbreak there last year before any horses can be imported. Significant numbers of New Zealand horses are stuck in Australia till that new standard can be implemented - which required the law change.

"That industry sees this bill as vital."

Jim Anderton said the main change that the Bill makes is to confirm that the Biosecurity Act, rather than the HSNO Act, is the correct statute for making decisions on incidentally imported new organisms.

"This is the way we understand Parliament intended the two Acts would operate, and this is how they have been operating up until the Court of Appeal decision.

"The Biosecurity and HSNO Acts were designed to work in partnership to protect New Zealand from the risks associated with the importation of organisms, with the Biosecurity Act focussing on the incidental importation of organisms with risk goods, and the HSNO Act covering the deliberate importation of new organisms. The amendments will ensure that the Acts can work in partnership more effectively, without compromising the level of protection for New Zealand."
Jim Anderton said he endorsed the "common-sense" approach of ensuring that no imports of Australian honey should be permitted until a review of MAF's analysis of the scientific evidence was completed.

A Supplementary Order Paper to make sure the legislation has this effect was tabled by the Minister during the Committee stage, and agreed to by the House.

Notwithstanding this, he said, it was important that the review be completed in a timely manner, and that it focuses only on the key issues that have previously been disputed by the National Beekeepers' Association.

"The process for developing the import health standard for Australian honey goes back a period of some years, and has already included extensive consultation and peer review. I would hope that the review can be completed within a period that is close to the 90 day period initially recommended by the select committee, so that final decisions can be made and all parties to the issues can move on."

The third reading of the bill was led by Health Minister David Cunliffe, as Jim Anderton was visiting drought-hit Taranaki farmers as Agriculture Minister.


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