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Biosecurity Failures Must Be Halted: Fed Farmers

13 November 2000 PR122/2000

BIOSECURITY FAILURES MUST BE HALTED: FEDERATED FARMERS

Federated Farmers Acting President Tom Lambie today called on the Government to ensure that its biosecurity agencies have both adequate funding and tightened management procedures. This follows exposure of the Quarantine Service management's failure to maintain adequate standards of enforcement, staff training, and equipment.

Federation Biosecurity spokesperson Tom Lambie said that the federation was very concerned at the apparent weakening of New Zealand biosecurity defences, and that the Government must make sure that its biosecurity agencies are well-funded and adequately managed.

"New Zealand has a biologically-based economy, and skimping on biosecurity and border controls is foolish. While the reports of management failure are concerning, the more important issue is making sure that New Zealand's overall biosecurity is strong," Mr Lambie said.

"Stringent biosecurity measures are vitally important. That requires the Government to do everything possible to maintain high standards. Federated farmers has been calling for a package of measures for some time," commented Mr Lambie.

"The Government should move more quickly on the biosecurity strategy announced in the Budget. The discovery of varroa mites, snakes in central Auckland, and Black Widow and Redback Jumping spiders amongst Californian grapes demonstrates that New Zealand has unacceptable gaps in its defences.

"There needs to be stakeholder membership on the Biosecurity Council. Industry groups should be represented at the very top of the biosecurity regulation process, and MAF needs to be more open with these issues so that those with the most at stake can have greater confidence in our biosecurity defences."

"The Minister of Biosecurity should reassess the standards that the MAF Quarantine Service works to and so minimise the risks to New Zealand's economy and future prosperity. For example, all used cars are inspected, but only 21% of containers. Biosecurity activities must be properly aligned with the sources of risk," he concluded.

The federation also believes instant fines should be bought in for tourist and travellers who breach biosecurity regulations, and funding for a major education programme.

ENDS For further comment: Tom Lambie 026-113-161 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269

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