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Common border could mean snakes in your garden

May 17, 2004 - Wellington

Common border with Oz could mean snakes in your garden

Forest and Bird is warning that a common border between New Zealand and Australia could result in more pest invasions unless biosecurity measures remain tight. Business leaders have called for a common border and a seamless trans-Tasman business environment at last weekend's ANZ Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum.

"New Zealand has paid millions to eradicate painted apple moth and is struggling to eradicate southern salt marsh mosquito. As a country, we have given up eradicating gum leaf skeletoniser. Poisonous redback spiders and white-tailed spiders are already well established. Do we really need more Australian pests?" asked Forest and Bird's Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey.

Unless biosecurity standards are maintained, a free flow of people and products between New Zealand and Australia could mean:

-Queensland fruit fly ruining crops
-Termites in our houses
-Snakes in your back yard
-Painted apple moth destroying native forests
-Large Australian spiders in the laundry
-New diseases being spread by mosquitoes
-Cane toads and banjo frogs killing wildlife
-Major eradication programmes in all towns that have ports

"Taking away the border controls between New Zealand and Australia would be simply nutty. Australian pests could not only devastate New Zealand's forests, but they could do severe damage to our economy and health as well," he said. "One of the biggest lessons from developing the Biosecurity Strategy was that New Zealand's biosecurity system needed to be better at keeping pests out. We should be careful to not lay out the welcome mat for Australian pests," he said.

"The European Union should not be seen as a model for New Zealand because it is continent where pests can travel freely without the aid of people. New Zealand's environment, economy and health is protected by a large moat called the Tasman Sea - that is a massive advantage for New Zealand that we should never give away," he said.

ENDS

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