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Budget 2004: Boost for our biosecurity defences

Hon Jim Sutton
Minister of Biosecurity

Hon Marian Hobbs
Associate Minister of Biosecurity

Big boost for our biosecurity defences

Budget 2004 allocates $46.5 million in new funding over four years to strengthen New Zealand's defences against exotic weeds, pests, and diseases, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

"The best way to measure the government's commitment to biosecurity is on baselines as total funding includes one-off responses to pest incursions.

"Baseline funding for 2004-05, operating only, increases from $154 million to almost $165 million. This represents a 7.4 per cent increase over the previous year and a 57.5 per cent increase since the Labour-led government took office," Mr Sutton said.

The $46.5 million budget allocation includes:

$19.5 million over four years to improve marine biosecurity: $4 million next financial year rising to around $5.2 million in subsequent years.
Another $1 million a year to the Protect New Zealand programme, which encourages New Zealanders to help keep the biosecurity system vigilant.
Another $7.8 million over four years for monitoring to ensure decisions on border management remain consistent and cost effective.

$404,000 this financial year and $405,000 in out years to fund a foot and mouth disease vaccine bank.

$400,000 to ensure conservation biosecurity is maintained.

Associate Biosecurity Minister Marian Hobbs said the national saltmarsh mosquito surveillance programme would receive additional operating funding of $1.6 million in this financial year followed by a total of $6.3 million over the next four years.

"We have done well on battling the Southern Saltmarsh Mosquito and this funding increase will assist us to detect new incursions of exotic species as soon as possible making the chances of eradication more likely."

She said the extra funding for marine biosecurity would provide increased surveillance in ports and marinas for exotic species likely to have a high impact on marine environmental values; increased resources to assess current and potential threats to the marine environment; increased research to assist in managing the main sources of risk to the marine environment (ballast water, and fouling on vessel hulls.)

Mr Sutton said the government's commitment to biosecurity was indisputable.

"In 2001, we introduced a $200 instant fine for biosecurity breaches at airports, something previous governments had been too scared to do. We put in the extra money for soft-tissue x-ray machines and detector dog teams to make sure screening of air passengers and crews was 100 per cent. We ensured that all sea containers were screened.

"All this has been done while still enabling trade and tourism to flow at ever-increasing rates."

Marian Hobbs said the government was now implementing the Biosecurity Strategy, drawn up after three years of public consultation and involvement.

ENDS

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