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Vigilance and action key drivers for biosecurity

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health,
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education,
Minister Responsible for Public Trust

Progressive Leader

7th November 2006 Press release

Vigilance and action key drivers for biosecurity

Minister of Biosecurity, Jim Anderton said today at the 4th Biosecurity Summit that Kiwis need to buy-in to New Zealand's status as a unique habitat. He said that the Labour-Progressive Government was continually working to meet its responsibility for biosecurity risks but that all of us must accept the responsibility for our own biosecurity destiny.

"An incursion affects us all, maybe not immediately, but as a small country, we are in touch with each other. Whether the cost is in the loss of trade – or aeroplanes swooping low early in the morning dropping spray over West Auckland suburbs, the cost is high," Jim Anderton said.

"We can act early – before it reaches those proportions, if we are vigilant. Like didymo sample that was collected in the Rangitikei River last week by Horizons Manawatu – thank goodness they were wrong - but at least they acted on their concerns.

"New Zealand is uniquely exposed – from both an economic and ecological viewpoint. In exchange, New Zealanders have a wonderful environment in which to live, work and to grow our products. We all need to be aware of the dangers - and also have the will to act. The "She'll be right" attitude isn't good enough by a country mile.

"Making sure there is no fruit or fresh produce in your bags when you come home from a holiday overseas, cleaning your boat, fishing gear and waders properly after a fishing trip and reporting suspected incursions of pest species are clear messages that every one of us can take note of and follow up," Mr Anderton said.

"Since 2000, the government's baseline spending on biosecurity has increased by more than 50 per cent over the last six years. That's not even counting extra funding for unexpected incursion responses. As New Zealanders, we need to welcome progress but also face up to the truth that no Minister of Biosecurity can promise a one hundred per cent incursion free success rate. Even with unlimited resources we would not reduce risk to zero. We need to direct our efforts to the most effective use of those resources.

"I want to see us move more of our risk overseas, so that other countries and traders manage more biosecurity risks before they get to New Zealand.
The focus of our biosecurity efforts is changing. We are turning towards pre-empting and preventing risks, rather than trying to respond to them after they're already here.

"Education campaigns are underway targeting China, Europe and the Pacific Islands. These are contributing to a reduction in the number of seizures of goods and infringement notices issued to passengers coming here.

"If New Zealand suffers a major biosecurity incursion, the response of other countries will be ruthless. We will be virtually defenceless against barriers applied to our exports.

"The greatest benefit for the lowest cost can be achieved if everyone accepts their own share of the responsibility for managing risk," Jim Anderton said in Wellington at the 4th Biosecurity Summit.

ENDS

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