Labour will restore the $2 million of cuts to frontline Biosecurity services made by National in 2009.
Primary industries are feeling increasingly vulnerable to pest incursions, and unless they can be assured that robust biosecurity protection is in place, they are unlikely to risk making large new investments.
The spread of tomato/potato psyllid since 2006, and the Psa outbreak in kiwifruit in late 2010, show the devastating impact such incursions can have.
Yet National has relaxed the continuous vigilance needed against new disease or pest threats.
In 2009 it cut 54 biosecurity officers working in ports and airports around the country. Many industry groups felt the cuts left the borders more vulnerable. Rising volumes of trade and international passenger arrivals now present serious challenges for our border protection services and a higher workload for frontline biosecurity staff.
Labour will ensure that New Zealand’s border protection capability, especially at the frontline, can deal with increasing biosecurity pressures and rising trade and travel volumes.
National has taken resources from the biosecurity frontline and placed them into a Joint Border Management System (JBMS) aimed at coordinating border agencies in their multiple objectives at the border.
But while better coordination and sharing of information is desirable, this must not undermine our ability to provide frontline border protection. Nor must biosecurity standards be compromised to facilitate easier border passage for tourists and imported goods.
Labour will review the JBMS to ensure that biosecurity standards are not being compromised for convenience or cost-saving.
In other measures Labour will:
- Convene a national summit to bring together all stakeholders in the bee industry to develop a plan to protect this vital component of our biological systems. The summit will include international expertise from those countries already dealing with bee population issues.
- Respond quickly to biosecurity threats while ensuring that local communities are well informed and consulted. “Large-scale biosecurity management – particularly aerial spraying – requires public co-operation and support. Affected local communities must be wellinformed and consulted about the need for action. Any health concerns must be addressed.
New Zealand needs biosecurity vigilance to protect the country from environmental and economic damage.
Pressure on our borders is becoming more intense, and pest incursions are increasing. We can’t stop every biological threat entering New Zealand, but we must exercise utmost vigilance and when we do face a threat, we must have the systems in place to deal with them effectively.