Biosecurity reform bill passes first reading

  • David Carter

A bill proposing the most significant changes to the Biosecurity Act in more than a decade passed its first reading in Parliament last night and was sent to select committee.

The Biosecurity Law Reform Bill includes a wide range of amendments to the Act, along with related amendments to four other Acts.

“New Zealand has developed a highly effective biosecurity system which is recognised as world-leading, but the Act has not kept pace with the way the system has had to evolve,” Biosecurity Minister David Carter said in introducing the bill.

“The amendments will implement a number of projects already underway covering border biosecurity, joint decision-making on newly-detected harmful organisms and ongoing management of established pests.

“Increasing volumes of trade and travel have increased risks at our border. New Zealanders rightly expect the biosecurity system to provide the highest possible level of protection.”

Mr Carter said a key plank of the proposed reforms is the development of a government-industry agreement on preparing for, and responding to, newly-detected harmful organisms, and for sharing the costs of jointly-agreed activities.

“For the best response, these need to be negotiated before any possible incursion.

“Protecting New Zealand from biosecurity risks cannot be the role of government alone. Industry perspectives and expertise need to be brought to the decision-making table, as we saw recently with the partnership approach in the response to the kiwifruit vine disease, Psa.”