Delamere Corrects Labour MP's Mistakes

  • John Delamare

Customs Minister Hon Tuariki Delamere today corrected an error perpetrated by Labour's Customs spokesman which appears to have misled at least one national newspaper and may create public alarm.

Labour MP Rick Barker last week claimed 11684 vessels arrived in New Zealand from overseas last June year, but were not searched by the Customs Service. From this, he concluded Customs is understaffed and drug smugglers have an easy time pursuing their activities in New Zealand.

These numbers and the consequent analysis were uncritically reported in several newspapers and repeated in The Independent's 'Scuttlebutt' column last Friday.

"Instead of Mr Barker demonstrating that Customs are not doing their job, he merely shows he is incapable of understanding the difference between ship movements and ship numbers," said Mr Delamere.

"His alarming 11,000-plus number includes ships leaving New Zealand as well as many thousands of coastal movements, often by the same vessels, around New Zealand. This means some ships are counted several times as they move around the coast.

"It may well be Labour policy to require Customs to search every ship that enters every port in this country, as well as those that are leaving New Zealand, and to board every pleasure craft or coal barge that moves around New Zealand's shores.

"But the more sensible among us will realise that a careful programme of risk assessment, intelligence activity and planned surveillance will achieve more effective results and make more intelligent use of our Customs resources than Mr Barker's fiscally irresponsible sledgehammer approach to border protection.

"All Mr Barker has achieved is to demonstrate his lack of qualification to become Minister of Customs. It is regrettable that he has ensnared the media in his mistakes," concluded Mr Delamere.