National bio security strategy launch

  • Jim Anderton
Industry and Regional Development

Speech notes- Bio security launch

Mona Vale

It is good to see you all here today - people here represent all sectors of the economy and the wider community.

Biosecurity is an issue that affects all of us. The increase in trade and changes in climate has increased the risks New Zealanders face and we need to actively protect our borders.

New Zealand is worth protecting, and we all have to work together to achieve this.

The Government currently allocates $123 million dollars to a biosecurity programme that includes $34 million for possum control.

The Labour/Alliance Coalition has dedicated an extra $4.8 million this year and a further $4.7 million over the next three years to strengthen measures to ensure Foot and Mouth Disease does not reach New Zealand.

The impact on our economy and our regions from the arrival of such diseases and pests could be significant.

As Minister for economic, industry and regional development I know that we need to minimise biosecurity risks in order to guarantee our economic future.

The Labour/Alliance Coalition Government has adopted a whole of Government approach to many of our policies and initiatives.

From an economic development perspective government agencies working together has helped regions like Gisborne develop a strategy for creating work and jobs and the same approach is creating opportunities for the wood processing and manufacturing industries.

Working together will achieve far more than working in isolation in an uncoordinated way.

Today's launch signals that this Government will ensure that all sectors and all parts of the community are involved in the biosecurity measures we are taking.

The Biosecurity Council is a ministerial advisory group. It includes a wide range of representatives from government agencies, regional councils and representatives from environmental organisations and a representative of primary production groups.

As Minister of Customs, I can say that the Customs Service works closely with MAF to keep New Zealand clean and green.

MAF has special expertise in the risks presented by pests and diseases, while the Customs Service is an expert in managing other risks (illicit drugs, offensive material, weapons, etc).

Every day, at airports and ports all over the country Customs officers are passing on questionable material to MAF for their expert assessment, and vice versa.

New Zealand already has strong protection from biosecurity risks and our biosecurity programme is the best in the world. However we cannot afford to be complacent.

A recent case involving the illegal importation of a Tarantula Spider (MAF v Barry Joseph Sutherland) illustrates the increasing importance placed on biosecurity by the public and our courts.

In sentencing, District Court Judge Strettell stopped just short of imposing a term of imprisonment and sentenced the defendant to 5 months periodic detention.

In his sentencing notes, Judge Strettell stressed the need for strict compliance with biosecurity legislation and cautioned on the seriousness of breaching biosecurity restrictions.

The defendant "…comes before the court at a time when … the laws relating to bio-security are vigorously applied and should be scrupulously complied with for obvious reasons.

"…the public requires a reassurance that the [Biosecurity] Act will be strictly complied with and that the penalties will be strictly enforced and that there would thus be a public deterrence to others who may attempt to import or keep goods which may well be more dangerous to the New Zealand economy."

Introduced pests pose a threat to the nation's future well being. We've all seen the damage to our native flora and fauna by possums and other exotic species.

In more recent times the introduction of pests, such as the varroa bee mite and the European shore crab, has put pressure on our primary industries.

Our protection measures must evolve and develop.

Today's launch is aimed at encouraging people to be more vigilant about biosecurity. It has been launched in three centres across New Zealand.

I'm launching in Christchurch today because of the importance to biosecurity for importers, gardening commentators, tourism, and the environment.

The Minister for Biosecurity Jim Sutton is launching in Wellington because of the importance of the involvement of central and local government, ports of entry, and the environment.

The Associate Minister for Biosecurity Marian Hobbs is launching in Auckland today because of the importance of the ports of entry, pleasure craft, waterfront, city, and importers to biosecurity.

I believe this awareness programme together with the Biosecurity Issues Paper, which is also being launched today for public consultation, will ensure that New Zealand will stay as a world leader in our biosecurity prevention efforts.

The Government cannot do this by itself; we need to work with you, offshore, at our borders and at home, to protect New Zealand.

We all need to work together cooperatively.

We all have to take responsibility.

We owe it to each other.

And we owe it to our children.

Thank you.