LABOUR OFFERS NOTHING NEW IN COPYCAT BIOSECURITY POLICY

  • John Luxton
Biosecurity

Biosecurity Minister John Luxton said today that Labour's Biosecurity Policy was very disappointing because it offered absolutely nothing new.

"National is committed to a pest free New Zealand. Our biosecurity policies are designed to protect and enhance New Zealand's precious environment. National has been vigilant about biosecurity while in office and our track record proves this."

"I have listened to Labour's constant carping on biosecurity issues, but when push comes to shove, the best they could come up with is a policy that is very
similar to ours. Labour are no better than the other invaders we are trying to keep out!"

"I guess I should be flattered that Labour is saying essentially we have got it right. What is really galling is they'll never admit it. Instead they are
mischievously trying to claim credit for our existing policies."

As evidence of Labour's copycat policy, Mr Luxton cited existing National initiatives:

- the development of a draft biosecurity strategy that aims for a pest free New
Zealand;
- an extensive educational programme for international visitors;
- in flight videos on all international aircraft which have the technology;
- a Trans-Tasman agreement on biosecurity issues which was signed in September
1999;
- funding for pest control on the Conservation estate to the tune of $36 million
in 1999;
- an increase in pest related expenditure from $79 million in 1993 to $150
million in 1999;
- the development of a ballast water strategy; and
- the establishment of an NGO Forum to allow wider public input.

Mr Luxton said that the rest of Labour's biosecurity policy was mostly uncosted rhetoric.

"It's easy to make hollow promises but the devil is in the detail. While Labour has stated that it will foot the $30 million bill for border control, Helen Clark admitted at the Aviation Industry Association Conference, that Labour had failed to take into account the $700,000 border costs at secondary international airports like Palmerston North, Dunedin and Queenstown. " Mr Luxton said

In comparison National's stance on border cost recovery was endorsed by a recent NZIER Report which concluded "that recovering the cost of border clearance
services from port companies is unambiguously superior to general taxation as such facilities gain in operational efficiencies and more importantly means that foreign sources of risk, bear their fair share of the cost."

"New Zealanders should be reassured that on the issue of biosecurity National continues to provide leadership and sound policies. In comparison after nine
long years in Opposition all Labour knows is what I've taught them," Mr Luxton concluded.