• John Luxton

A scaremongering and totally unfounded press statement put out by Federated Farmers this morning suggesting that when the Auckland Airport is sold, "the biosecurity procedures may be cut back or made less effective" is totally wrong, Minister for Biosecurity, Hon John Luxton said today.

" I am surprised that Federated Farmers didn't take the five minutes to check with the Government what the situation actually is before they made their misleading and totally unfounded statement.

"Despite who owns this building, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's (MAF) Operations Group will continue to provide clearances at Auckland International Airport.

"Even more importantly, MAF will remain the agency responsible for the setting of import health standards under the Biosecurity Act. If any "risk goods" inspected at the border do not meet the requirements of the relevant import health standard, then biosecurity clearance is not given. As at present, MAF will be obliged to ensure that all import requirements are technically justified. The sale of Auckland International Airport does not reflect any departure from this approach.

"I am pleased that Federated Farmers share my concerns about the biosecurity risk to our important primary industry. This is why the Government recently allocated an additional $20 million on new sophisticated x-ray equipment, training, and quarantine detector dogs to boost biosecurity protection at first point of entry.

"And as hard as we try, sometimes unwanted organisms do get into the country. As a result this Government has recently spent around $12 million to complete the tussock moth eradication programme.

"In March I convened a meeting of a range of interest groups from the agricultural sector on the clover root weevil problem. Government provided the impetus towards researching solutions and fronted up with money. Until that point, these interest groups had not contributed anything towards solving the complex clover root weevil problem. Now progress is being made.

"This Government has been and will remain very committed to ensuring biosecurity standards are not compromised, " Mr Luxton concluded.