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National Reveals Biosecurity Cuts

14 September 2005

National Reveals Biosecurity Cuts

The National Party have revealed there will be cuts to biosecurity funding, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said material distributed by the National Party in his Aoraki electorate showed there would be 2 per cent cuts in state sector budgets each year to help pay for tax cuts. The only sectors excluded from these cuts were health, education, and superannuation.

That meant essential areas such as biosecurity and trade negotiations would be cut, leaving New Zealand vulnerable, he said.

Mr Sutton did not believe that health, education, and superannuation were safe in any case.

”National would need to make at least $3.5billion in cuts to afford the tax
reduction they propose."

He said they needed to stop hiding behind vague statements and tell New Zealand – especially rural New Zealand which depends on strong biosecurity – where the cuts will be.

“Will they stop the protection at a particular airport? Or allow careless carriers or smugglers of risk material clear access to New Zealand at certain times of day?

“Perhaps they intend to cut the information programmes that educate New Zealanders about the importance of biosecurity and warn of particularly dangerous pest species? “

Mr Sutton said the Labour-led Government had a clear and demonstrable commitment to biosecurity.

“The baseline biosecurity budget – that is the funding excluding funding for specific incursions – has increased by almost 60 percent in the past six years. We’ ve introduced 100 per cent screening at all international airports for passengers and crew, 100 per cent screening of all mail and courier packs, screening for sea containers, and boosted marine biosecurity and surveillance throughout the country.

“National will put all this at risk. Tax cuts are just not worth it, if it means cuts to biosecurity like that.”

ENDS

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