New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand.

New x-ray machines have been installed in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown airports, and the Auckland International Mail Centre.

Mr Guy also presented official appointment certificates today to 32 new quarantine inspectors and five new detector dog handlers.

Following the graduation, 16 of the new quarantine inspectors will be based in Auckland. Eight will go to Wellington and to Christchurch.

Three new dog teams (handler and dog) will go to Auckland, and one will go to both Wellington and Queenstown. Detector dog teams are specially trained to search baggage, mail and cargo to locate undeclared or forgotten agricultural products.

“The new frontline recruits will strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity frontline before the busy summer peak season. Their appointment means close to 100 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 14 months,” says Mr Guy.

“Staff numbers will be further bolstered by MPI’s plans to recruit a further 24 new quarantine inspectors in March next year.”

In addition to the new staff and x-ray machines, Mr Guy says MPI has launched a project to encourage more voluntary declarations of biosecurity risk goods at Auckland airport by Chinese passport holders.

“China is now New Zealand’s second largest source of air passenger arrivals. Research shows that visitors from China tend to be poorly informed about New Zealand’s biosecurity laws and, therefore, are less likely to declare or dispose risk items upon arrival.”

Initiatives to improve compliance include use of translators and electronic translating tools at risk assessment and search areas, and self-search station where passengers check their own luggage before official biosecurity checks.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority and these new initiatives show that MPI is committed to strengthening New Zealand’s border defences,” says Mr Guy.