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Audit report needs to be seen in full context

Audit report needs to be seen in full context

The Auditor-General’s report into biosecurity risk management has added to the emergence of common themes around which the foundation of a national Biosecurity Strategy is being built, Biosecurity Council chair John Hellström said today.

Dr Hellström said recent reviews - including this week’s Auditor-General’s report, the independent review of biosecurity surveillance released in September and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s review of 2000 - have all brought a raft of useful recommendations forward.

“We are now in the process of drawing the various strands together into a draft Strategy that will be available for consultation in a few weeks.

“It is important to recognise that this Strategy will sit above all of the recent reviews. It is being co-ordinated by the Biosecurity Council and the audit report has been one of several contributions to this process. It would be fair to say we have no real surprises left and are aware that many so-called problems are being dealt with as time and resources permit.

“Our proposed Strategy is a collaborative project with a common goal. It will provide a big picture vision that has been lacking and set the scene for closing existing gaps in our system at a more concerted pace,” said Dr Hellström.

“One of the recurring criticisms of our biosecurity system is that there isn’t enough leadership nor clear accountabilities for those who are looking after biosecurity.

“There is a call for this to change and we believe the Strategy is going to formally address this for the first time since 1997, including a probable change to the role of the Biosecurity Council itself.

“We do have a successful biosecurity system in New Zealand and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. MAF’s Biosecurity Authority, established in 1999, has made a difference and the work of the MAF Quarantine Service at the border is world class.

“I personally believe the number of reviews of New Zealand’s biosecurity system is reaching a saturation point and for that reason believe we need to shift our attention to agreeing on a Biosecurity Strategy that can be ready to be implemented by July 2003,” said Dr Hellström.

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