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Too much wiggle-room at the biosecurity border

Too much wiggle-room at the biosecurity border

The Painted Apple Moth invasion is a crisis New Zealand will be condemned to relive again and again unless we get serious as a nation about protecting our biosecurity, Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said today.

The Auditor-General's report on MAF has raised a number of concerns about the Ministry's handling of recent insect incursions and also questioned its container surveillance programme.

"MAF itself admits that 39 per cent of containers entering this country are contaminated, yet it checks just 24 per cent," said Mr Ewen-Street. "That equates to 60,000 contaminated containers slipping unchecked through the net every year.

"Because MAF is overworked and underfunded, our people, our environment and our farmers are having to pay the cost for eradicating the alien species that fly, crawl or slither out of unchecked containers every day.

"This is patently unfair. Unless we actually want a land over-run with Painted Apple Moths, Southern Saltmarsh Mosquitoes and Black Widow Spiders then every container entering the country must be inspected.

"And the full cost for that must be met by the importers, not the taxpayers, regardless of whatever so-called 'free trade' commandments that may break.

"We live in a unique but fragile island environment," said Ian Ewen-Street. "The ultimate cost of an incursion of fruit fly or moth is borne by you and me, our farmers and our exporters - not by importers and certainly not by the trans-national corporations and WTO bureaucrats who want to dictate trade rules."

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