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Biosecurity A Key Issue On Both Sides Of Tasman

1 July 2002

Biosecurity Awareness A Key Issue On Both Sides Of The Tasman

Efforts to raise awareness about the importance of biosecurity and quarantine issues in New Zealand are being watched closely by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

"As New Zealand's major neighbour we have a mutual interest in promoting the same messages that the Protect New Zealand campaign is all about," says AQIS public relations manager David Finlayson.

"The volume of traffic in terms of both trade and travel between our two countries means we virtually share the same border. This gives each quarantine service common ground for supporting each others' operational and awareness needs."

Protect New Zealand Week - set to launch next week (8 to 14 July) - has clear parallels to similar initiatives in Australia in recent years.

Figures on border enforcement released last month by MAF Quarantine Service, show Australian travellers are the least likely nationality to be fined for breaching New Zealand's biosecurity laws - lower than New Zealanders. So the AQIS approach must be rubbing off.

"The approach we've taken has many of the same elements of the Protect New Zealand campaign -although we have chosen the 'Quarantine Matters!' slogan for the Australian campaign," says Mr Finlayson.

"I believe the bottom line for both approaches has to be to promote a 'shared responsibility' for freedom from major unwanted pests and diseases to individuals and industry, both on- and off-shore.

"We can also continue to learn from each other about the best methods of quarantine border protection by swapping information - after all, New Zealand and Australia have in common sophisticated quarantine systems and freedom from many of the same types of pests and disease risks."

The need for an enhanced awareness programme was recognised in Australia back in 1996 and was followed by benchmark research into attitudes and target audiences. Since then a broad range of activities has been implemented, which has included print advertising, a national Quarantine Week, exhibitions, improved community networks and a schools kit.

Tracking research shows Australians feeling well-informed about quarantine increased from 37 in 2001. Awareness amongst target groups also increased, particularly amongst people employed in the cargo movement and travel industries.

For further information contact:

Stephen Olsen, MAF Biosecurity on (04) 470 2753; email: olsens@maf.govt.nz

David Finlayson, AQIS on (0061 2) 6272 5234; email david.finlayson@aqis.gov.au

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