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Biosecurity cut backs leaves industry vulnerable

9 September 2009
Media Statement

Government biosecurity cut backs leaves billion dollar industry vulnerable

The National Government’s decision to make more than 50 workers whose job it is to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks leaves this country’s primary production industries vulnerable, Labour Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The National Government carried out token consultation over redundancies with the result being people are losing their jobs and regional biosecurity operations will end up being reduced,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The reduction in regional staff will mean that areas like Nelson and Timaru may be unable to cope with a sudden and urgent biosecurity issue or pests that could damage New Zealand primary production industries such as our fruit growing and dairy farming.

“Last year there were 66 incursions of unwanted pests and organisms dealt with by New Zealand’s biosecurity staff. Now less staff will be charged with protecting our borders from these pests at the same time as John Key announces plans to throw New Zealand’s borders open to Australian visitors.

“Opening our borders up means we should be increasing surveillance at the borders not decreasing it.

“New Zealand is completely reliant on our primary industries to drive our economy and making them more vulnerable to potential dangers through staff cuts is ludicrous.

“The primary production industries will be insulted and worried by the Government’s decision to totally disregard their fear of such biosecurity cutbacks,” Damien O’Connor said.

ENDS

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