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Luxton Launches New Biosecurity Authority

Biosecurity Minister John Luxton today officially launched the new Biosecurity Authority, saying it was a very positive move that will mean greater focus and co-ordination of the biosecurity risks that New Zealand faces on a daily basis.

"The biosecurity portfolio is one of my most important ministerial responsibilities because it is the portfolio that carries the highest stakes should the worst happen and a serious pest or disease establish itself in New Zealand."

The Biosecurity Authority brings together over 80 biosecurity experts and will be the leader and co-ordinator of not only MAF's biosecurity activities, but also New Zealand's total biosecurity programme.

"The establishment of the Biosecurity Authority follows a number of previous initiatives by this Government in the biosecurity area and honours our serious commitment to biosecurity. These include the establishment of the biosecurity portfolio, the introduction of the Biosecurity Act and the creation of the Biosecurity Council."

"Every day there are threats to New Zealand's biosecurity status. Fortunately the majority of these are intercepted by MAF's quarantine service. For example, each year 86,000 risk goods such as apples, meat, honey are seized, and 4,500 unwanted organisms including fruit fly, gypsy moth and black widow spiders are stopped at the border."

"This is a challenging area especially given the increase in passengers and cargo coming into New Zealand. In the last 10 years passenger numbers have more than doubled from 1.5 to 3.16 million. In the last 5 years the number of sea containers has increased from 200,000 to 316,000, and used vehicles over the same period have increased from 50,000 to 120,000."

"Incursions will occur no matter how hard we try to exclude them from our shores. It is essential for New Zealand to retain a biosecurity capability to enable biosecurity risks to be identified, assessed and managed in a consistent and effective manner.'

"New Zealand is a small country, with limited resources and expertise, so it is important that all groups work together to ensure our biosecurity systems are able to protect our unique biodiversity." "I congratulate all those involved in establishing the Biosecurity Authority, and look forward to the establishment of the new Authority as the centrepiece of the Government's biosecurity risk management programmes."


ENDS

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