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

Issue 49: Werewolf Weekender

Philip Matthews: From The Lost Continent
It’s a case of better late than never for Olivier Assayas’ marvellous After May/Apres Mai, which first screened at Venice in 2012, had a couple of North Island screenings last year during the International Film Festival’s “Autumn Events” season, got a theatrical release in Australia – but not here – and only now appears on DVD, after Assayas himself has moved on. More>>

The Complicatist: Blue Eyed & Soulful
For a while in June, the top two singles on the US Billboard charts featured Iggy Azalea, an Australian model turned hip hop performer. To some, this may seem like just the latest chapter in a long saga of whites ripping off black culture, while enriching themselves in the process. Obviously, there’s some truth in the stereotype. Yet it can also obscure the positive collaborations – in jazz, soul music and hip hop – between musicians who treated each other as creative equals, race regardless. More>>

Satire: Carry On Captaining
Oh hello. Scanner Technician Davis. To what do I owe the pleasure?
You think we’re what?
Oh, pish. This vessel has been travelling along smoothly for generations – particularly smoothly in the last few years though I say so myself – and I happen to know we have never once been hit by an asteroid... More>>

 

Parliament Today:

False Electoral Return: John Banks Sentenced To Community Detention, Community Work

“The conviction of John Banks today is another sad chapter for John Banks and the ACT Party”, says Labour candidate for Epsom Michael Wood. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of ISIS And Labour

While global attention got distracted by the fate of MH17 and the atrocities in Gaza, the world’s other mega ‘bad news’ story – the rise of ISIS-led fundamentalism in Iraq – has reached a tipping point. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild: Christchurch City Council Releases Milestone Report

The Cameron Partners report says the Council may need to find an additional $783 million to $883 million by 2019... Options Cameron Partners proposed include increasing rates, borrowing more, maximising insurance payments, and freeing up capital from its commercial assets. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: Parliament Adjourns

The 50th Parliament has adjourned for the final time. After the completion of the adjournment debate, MPs left for the campaign trail with Parliament to be dissolved on August 14 ahead of the September 20 election. More>>

ALSO:

Novopayout: Government-Owned Company To Take Over School Payroll

After lengthy negotiations, the Ministry of Education and the existing school payroll provider, Talent2, have settled both on the amounts payable by Talent2 towards the costs of remediating the Novopay service and a new operating model for the school payroll system. More>>

ALSO:

Employment: Labour Will Raise Minimum Wage, Restore Work Rights

A Labour government will raise the minimum wage $2 an hour to $16.25 and restore work rights to ensure the benefits of economic growth are shared fairly by all New Zealanders, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. More>>

ALSO:

Police: Crewe File Review Released

No new evidence has come to light implicating any specific person as being responsible for the murders of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe... The review identifies there is a distinct possibility that Exhibit 350 (the brass .22 cartridge case) may be fabricated evidence, and that if this is the case, that a member of Police would have been responsible. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Issue #49: Gordon Campbell Interviews Laila Harre

For 25 years, Labour and National have been in virtual agreement about the basics of economic policy, and differed mainly on how to go about managing its social consequences. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news