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MPI Shuts the Gate Well After Two Biosecurity Horses Bolt

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
4 JULY 2017

MPI Shuts the Gate Well After Two Biosecurity Horses Have Bolted

New data released to New Zealand First casts doubt on MPI Biosecurity’s Myrtle Rust windborne theory with concerns growing over how slow it was to institute movement controls or respond to the Oyster parasite in Stewart Island’s Big Glory Bay.

“How can you take a government seriously, which took three weeks to respond to Stewart Island’s Oyster parasite and almost two months before it put movement controls in place for Myrtle Rust,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The Oyster parasite and Myrtle Rust are being treated by the Government as if they are ‘Acts of God.’ That’s a convenient way to escape scrutiny with Minister Guy confusing his oyster talking points with Myrtle Rust telling The Country that the Oyster parasite was ‘wind-borne.’

“With Stewart Island about 1,000 kilometres to the South, this would demand a parasite swimming against the powerful Westland Current. Just like the ‘laser-guided’ Myrtle Rust spores that selectively target only some nurseries in some regions, it does not stack up.

“The reality is that we know from a Parliamentary answer that every week, MPI Biosecurity is seizing just under two plant cuttings, plant material or whole plants coming out of Australia, South Africa, South America, United States and Asia.

“That’s just the tip of an iceberg because how much more is getting through the keeper?

“Aside from plant material not found at the border or in mail, a whopping 85% of empty sea containers are not even physically inspected by MPI Biosecurity. That’s a huge hole.

“Then during the cruise ship season. biosecurity honesty bins take the place of Biosecurity officers at many ports. So could what infected the Oyster farms at Stewart Island have originated from a visiting ship? Either in ballast or from foreign oysters aboard ship?

“We don’t know because this government doesn’t want to ask the hard questions,” says Mr Peters.


Rt Hon Winston Peters Question (a breakdown of inspected containers is available):
In each year since 2014, and listed by type and source of seizure, how many plant cuttings, plant material or whole plants have been intercepted at the border or via postal services from Australia, South Africa, South America, Hawaii, United States or from Asian arrivals/destinations?

Portfolio: Primary Industries
Minister: Hon Nathan Guy
Date Lodged: 16 June 2017
Date Answered: 27 June 2017

Answer Text: Since 2014 there has been a total of 2,116 seizures of plant cuttings, plant material or whole plants at the border from Australia, South Africa, South America, United States or Asian arrivals/destinations. Note: MPI seizure data does not distinguish between Hawaii and the United States.

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