• John Luxton

Biosecurity Minister John Luxton said today that biosecurity remains one of the National Party's most important areas of responsibility.

Each year 86,000 risk goods such as apples, meat and honey are seized and 4,500 unwanted organisms are stopped at the border.

"The National led Government has invested heavily in protecting our unique biodiversity and our indigenous flora and fauna. Pest related expenditure in 1999 exceeded $150m a figure which has been increasing ever since National came to power in 1990. This includes:

- $29m on the provision of services at the border;

- $20m on pest and disease surveillance programmes;

- $36m on pest control on the conservation estate

- $19.3m for the control of tuberculosis vectors.

"National's ongoing commitment to Biosecurity is evidenced by our track record while in office," Mr Luxton said.

- the establishment of the Biosecurity Act in 1993;

- the establishment of a new Biosecurity portfolio in 1997;

- the creation of the Biosecurity Council in 1997;

- the Border Review commenced in February 1999; and

- the recent establishment of the Biosecurity Authority on 1 July 1999.

In the 1999 Budget National committed $2.1m to eradicate Undaria, an invasive seaweed that poses a risk to our marine environment and marine farming enterprises while a further $6.4m has been earmarked eradication of the saltmarsh mosquito.

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.

"National has remained vigilant in its commitment to detecting risk goods at the border which has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of Quarantine Detector dogs in 1992 and X-ray machines in 1996. Our detector dogs cover all international airports. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in interceptions at our borders eg. from a 55% detection rate of fruit fly host material to a 95% detection rate in 1998."

"National will ensure that there is ongoing evaluation of new technology and systems which will enhance our ability to detect risk goods at the border. National is unequivocal that biosecurity policies must continue to focus on protecting our unique environment and production sectors," Mr Luxton concluded.