Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Auditor-General: Responding to biosecurity incursions

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

22 February 2013

Ministry for Primary Industries: Preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions

Biosecurity helps prevent the establishment of pests or diseases that would damage our primary production industries, native flora and fauna, or our health. Our country is more dependent on biosecurity than any other developed country. Biosecurity is fundamental to New Zealand's economic health and natural heritage.

The system to ensure biosecurity is complex. Since 2004, a number of mergers and restructures have changed the responsibilities for managing biosecurity. The new Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has provided biosecurity leadership since 30 April 2012.

This year, the theme for my office's work programme is Our future needs – is the public sector ready? The focus is on how public entities prioritise work, develop necessary capabilities and skills, and use information to identify and address future needs.

In this context, we carried out a performance audit that looked at how effectively the biosecurity system works in preparing for and responding to the arrival in New Zealand of foreign pests and organisms – biosecurity incursions.

MPI and its predecessor organisations responsible for biosecurity have been, by and large, successful at responding to incursions, dealing with between 30 and 40 incursions a year. They have developed generally high-trust relationships with partners by working together on responses and have improved biosecurity by sharing knowledge and fostering innovative practice.

No border control is 100% effective, so it is important that New Zealand is prepared to deal with incursions effectively. However, it is my view that MPI is under-prepared for potential incursions from some high-risk organisms. Responding to incursions has taken precedence over preparing for the potential arrival of other pests and diseases. Not enough priority has been given to planning. Many response partners who have worked with MPI and its predecessors believe that stronger response capability is also needed.

Improvements are being made, including trying to detect threats earlier by better targeting of surveillance activities, updating existing plans for dealing with specific pests and diseases, and more regular testing to ensure that plans and preparations will work if needed. A new response system has brought more consistency and efficiency to how incursions are dealt with. Some improvements to information systems and how information is used have begun. There is more openness about acknowledging mistakes and treating these as learning opportunities.

However, there is still a lot to do and some serious weaknesses remain. Plans for responding to potential incursions from some high-risk organisms are not yet complete. For example, the plan for dealing with a foot and mouth disease outbreak is inadequate.

Workforce planning and capability development needs to be stronger, so that MPI has the appropriate people, with the right skills, in the right place. Staff are not using the new response system to its full potential, so a better approach is needed to managing staff experience, development, and training. Contracting with partners during responses needs to be more efficient and there is potential for better value for money. Some information systems do not yet link together and information is not used as effectively and efficiently as it could be.

Performance reporting also needs to improve. Stronger outcome-based measures and performance measurement tools are needed to identify how effectively and efficiently incursions are responded to and to ensure continuous improvement.

The recently merged and restructured MPI has an opportunity to achieve lasting improvements in biosecurity preparedness and response. However, the previous track record of delivering sustained improvements is not good. There are many instances where initiatives either have not been completed or have been delivered but not embedded.

There is a desire for improvement, but this requires continued strong leadership from the new management and commitment throughout MPI. I have made some recommendations for improvements to biosecurity preparedness and response that will need to be implemented if MPI is to bring about the changes required.

I thank the staff of MPI and its response partners for their assistance and co-operation in the course of our audit.

ENDS

Scoop copy of report (PDF) - original at www.oag.govt.nz/2013/biosecurity

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

'Tea Break Bill' Passes: Gordon Campbell On Bad Labour Laws And Poor Safety

By co-incidence, one of the prime dangers of the government’s new employment relations law has been underlined by the release of the death and injury statistics among workers at New Zealand ports. These are highly profitable enterprises for the port owners.

The Port of Tauranga for instance, is expecting its current full-year profit to be between $78 million and $83 million and other ports are enjoying similar boom times – but they are also highly dangerous places for the people who work on or around the port premises. At the Port of Tauranga, there have been 26 serious accidents since 2011, and two deaths. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

No Charges: Outcome Of Operation Clover Investigation

Police have completed a multi-agency investigation, Operation Clover, into the activities of a group calling themselves “The Roast Busters”. The 12 month enquiry focused on incidents involving allegations of sexual offending against a number of girls in the Waitemata Police district and wider Auckland area... More>>

ALSO:

UNICEF Report: NZ Cautioned On "Stagnating" Child Poverty

An international report by UNICEF has found that child poverty rates in New Zealand have barely changed since 2008, despite similar sized countries significantly reducing child poverty during the recent recession. More>>

ALSO:

Funding Report: Two Pathways For Transport In Auckland

Commissioned by Auckland Council, the group was asked to investigate two possible pathways for raising $300 million per year ($12 billion over 30 years) to pay for the improvements needed to help fix Auckland’s transport system. More>>

ALSO:

Pay Equity: Equal Pay Win In Court Of Appeal

CTU: The Court of Appeal has made a historic decision paving the way for a substantial equal pay claim for aged care workers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Finishing Line, And Amazon’s Woes

If the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal wasn’t such a serious matter, this would be pretty funny… More>>

ALSO:

TV3 Video: Three Die On Roads Over Labour Weekend

The official holiday period ended at 6am Tuesday, with three deaths on the roads during the Labour Day weekend. More>>

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news