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Published: 2003-02-28 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is making a strong submission on the draft national Biosecurity Strategy, asking for a tougher approach to protect New Zealand’s agricultural industry.

The Council supports Local Government New Zealand’s submission on the draft strategy, but is also making its own Waikato submissions. It says biosecurity is of such strategic importance to the country that Government should make the project the most urgent priority.

The Council said it was generally disappointed in the draft strategy, saying it was short on detail, lacking in actions and failed to achieve an effective a realistic position for biosecurity in New Zealand.

“The Government needs to pull out all stops to ensure the Biosecurity Strategy is accelerated to finalisation as soon as feasible.

“The value of primary production and trade to New Zealand is paramount, and must be protected in the same way as national security. Environmental, health and tourism objectives from biosecurity protection are also significant, but trade based on primary production comes first.”

The Council said that the issue was of utmost importance to the Waikato, where the regional economy was based on primary production.

“The Waikato proximity to significant import pathways such as Auckland and Tauranga makes our land base particularly at risk from pest incursions. There have been too many failures and unsatisfactory departmental responses to allow the current situation to continue.

“A dramatically changed national biosecurity strategy is essential.”

The Waikato submission says MAF culture and philosophy was unacceptable and a new structure was necessary, the Biosecurity Council was ineffective, unknown and lacked purpose and lack of leadership was most evident, the submission says. The Ministry of Fisheries appeared to be deprived of biosecurity resources and a Ministry of Biosecurity was required.

The submission says a cost benefit analysis needs to be done to compare interception at point of entry and subsequent pest management action.

Varroa bee mite had imposed huge costs on the Waikato, and other regions paid a large part of the costs of pest incursions, the Council says.