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A new era for New Zealand biosecurity

Monday 25 August 2003

A new era for New Zealand biosecurity

Today’s release by the Government of the Biosecurity Council’s biosecurity strategy and accompanying Cabinet decisions heralds a new era for New Zealand’s biosecurity system, according to MAF’s Director-General Murray Sherwin.

“New Zealand’s biosecurity system is regarded world-wide as being leading-edge. But the report of the Biosecurity Council has identified impediments to its performance and future development arising from fragmented leadership and dispersed responsibility,” Murray Sherwin said.

“Government’s decision to assign overall leadership for the biosecurity system to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is exciting and a very significant responsibility for MAF. I am determined we will meet this challenge in full. We will do so with the close collaboration of the other government agencies with interests and on-going responsibilities in biosecurity, and with our local government and non-government stakeholders.

“I believe that this overall biosecurity leadership role is a logical fit for MAF. We have long experience, established skills and capability in this area. We also have broader interests in the sustainable use and enhancement of our natural resources that link tightly with these new biosecurity responsibilities.

“Biosecurity grew from a concern about potential damage to New Zealand’s economy from pests and diseases affecting our livestock, crops and forests. The scope of biosecurity has over time evolved to include threats to indigenous flora and fauna, the marine environment and human health. This broadening of scope requires the creation of new mechanisms to achieve comprehensive biosecurity protection and consistency in our response to risks across the full spectrum of biosecurity concerns,” he said.

“Although the Government has asked MAF to assume overall responsibility for the performance of the biosecurity system, the Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Health and Department of Conservation will continue to have roles in biosecurity. A Chief Executives’ Forum has been created to provide oversight on strategic matters and to monitor biosecurity system performance. MAF will be seeking advice and the active participation in biosecurity matters of experts from those agencies.

“A change management process has been initiated within MAF to equip the organisation to cope with this new biosecurity role. This process is being led by MAF’s Deputy Director General Larry Fergusson,” Murray Sherwin said.

“We expect to have the major elements of this change management process completed by the early part of 2004. This will involve establishing a work programme to implement today’s Cabinet decisions, setting up the various liaison and consultative groups, defining roles and responsibilities and making appointments to key roles.

“The Biosecurity Council’s expectations of our biosecurity system are very challenging. It is fitting that high standards are set because our nation’s economic performance, together with our environmental and health well-being depend on meeting such standards. I am confident that MAF will do its part and we look forward to enlisting the support of our four million fellow New Zealanders to meet those high expectations,” Murray Sherwin concluded.


ENDS

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