GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 14th  July 2005

Biosecurity New Zealand's Systems Draft has Moth Holes

Biosecurity New Zealand’s draft System for Auditing Compliance with the Import Health Standard for Sea Containers from All Countries, does not go far enough in protecting New Zealand from new pests and threats to primary production and the environment, according to Green Party Biosecurity Spokesperson Steffan Browning.

The 1% random basic auditing of containers is inadequate, although the suggested 100% auditing regime of samples non-conforming is laudable, said Mr Browning Considering the financial and social costs in aerial spraying for painted apple moth alone, it is time Biosecurity NZ looked harder and more often from the start he said.

When the auditing system has shown Non-Conformance and increased risk, inspection of containers at Transitional Facilities with as little as a 3 metre buffer from escape for pests is not good enough, said the Greens’ Steffan Browning.
Biosecurity NZ requirements state, ‘Freedom from weeds, rubbish or debris for 3 metres around the container. The intent is to deny any easy refuge for pests or new organisms that may be in or on the container.’
Doubtful cargoes need inspection at more secure facilities with independent inspection at the port being more appropriate, said Mr Browning.

While it is commendable that an assessment of the importers 'Accredited Person' is included in a random audit, giving a warning ahead of an audit does nothing to indicate the real effectiveness of Accredited Persons in caring for New Zealand’s biosecurity needs at another time, when there is no inspector present.

In fact Biosecurity New Zealand’s Draft System does not appear to specify whether the accredited person at an audit need be the importers normal assistant, said Mr Browning, adding that there needs to be use of dummy contamination to test the skills and committment of all the defacto protectors of our borders.
An importer naturally wants their newly arrived goods available for sale or processing as soon as possible and independent inspectors will always be preferable to the vested interests of importers or their agents, he said.

There also needs to be stronger consequences for failure of the audit. Instead of just the expense of a higher frequency of inspection, the importer should also have their licences to import suspended for repeated failure, whether it is deliberate or not.

The Green Party is committed to strong border protection and the highest level of sea container inspection practical, concluded Mr Browning.

Steffan Browning
Green Party Spokesperson
021 725655

Back to Press Release Directory