New Zealand Labour Party

Biosecurity rethink a long time

The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in the wake of numerous fruitfly outbreaks after a decision to stop x-raying 100 per cent of bags four years ago.

Documents obtained by Labour show senior ministry staff expressed serious concerns about the basis for the Government’s decision, including a flawed survey that was used to show trans-Tasman travellers were a low risk.

“The Government has put our horticulture and agriculture industries at risk with its ill-conceived plans and lack of proper process.

“In his haste to speed up trans-Tasman travel, the Prime Minister rushed through the decision to remove 100 per cent bag-screening, something that rightly appalled growers and farmers.

“An Auditor-General’s report in 2013 identified a large number of deficiencies within our biosecurity – one of them being that John Key’s Smart Gate’ system has allowed hundreds of thousands of visitors to walk across our border unchecked.

“That it’s taken Nathan Guy years to move on the issue is a disgrace,” Damien O’Connor says.