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

 

Parliament Today:

Werewolf: The Defence Pretence

Last year, the world began spending more money on weapons again, for the first time since 2011... New Zealand belongs to a region – Asia and Oceania – where military spending rose sharply in 2015, by 5.4 per cent. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Not Crying Foul, Argentina

So a couple of guys found to be criminally liable of environmental pollution in Argentina lodge an application with the Overseas Investment Office… in order to buy some prime New Zealand rural land. Seems that their factory back home had carelessly and/or intentionally discharged toxic waste into the Lujan river. Bummer... More>>

ALSO:

Urban & Rural: $303m To Merge And Modernise New Zealand’s Fire Services

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today announced funding of $303 million over five years to combine urban and rural fire services into one organisation from mid-2017. More>>

ALSO:

High Trust Regime: What Did The PM Tell His Lawyer About Foreign Trusts?

The Government stopped the IRD from reviewing New Zealand foreign trusts shortly after the Prime Minister’s lawyer wrote to the Revenue Minister claiming John Key had promised him the regime would not be changed. More>>

ALSO:

Road Crime: Wicked Campers Vans Classified As Objectionable

The definition of publication includes any "thing that has printed or impressed upon it, or otherwise shown upon it, 1 or more (or a combination of 1 or more) images, representations, signs, statements, or words", The Classification Office has previously classified such 'things' as billboards, t-shirts, and even a drink can. This is the first time the Classification Office has classified a vehicle. More>>

ALSO:

'When New' Repairs: Landmark EQC Settlement

The Earthquake Commission has cut a deal with 98 Canterbury homeowners that affirms the government entity's responsibility to repair earthquake-damaged property to a 'when new' state, as well as covering repairs for undamaged parts of a property and clarifying its position on cash settlement calculations. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Kiwirail’s Latest Stint In The Dogbox

The denigration of Kiwirail continues. The latest review (based on a 2014 assessment) of the options facing the company have enabled Kiwirail to be hung out to dry once again as a liability and burden on the taxpayer. More>>

ALSO:

Royal Society Report: Good Opportunities To Act Now On Climate Change

There are many actions New Zealand can and should take now to reduce the threat of climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy, a report released today by the Royal Society of New Zealand finds... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news