Monday, August 24, 2009

Smarter Borders

John Key and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently announced plans to make it easier to travel across the Tasman. This, of course, has major implications for biosecurity – in fact, if it didn’t, you could almost make trans-Tasman travel a domestic experience.

But New Zealand takes biosecurity very seriously because it is critical to our reputation and economy. A major breach of biosecurity would affect us all and this is why we need to be constantly reviewing the way we do things at the border. We can’t just accept that what we have now is the best we can do.

The trans-Tasman travel package includes measures that will deliver a better, smarter, and more efficient biosecurity system at our border.

The changes cover a new express arrivals lane for travellers identified as low biosecurity risk, a pilot of assessing/x-raying bags during flight time to allow quicker processing on arrival for passengers not carrying risk goods, and an increase in the instant biosecurity infringement fine, from $200 to $400.

Research done by MAF Biosecurity New Zealand shows that not all bags pose an equal level of biosecurity risk, with the majority presenting little or no risk and only 4% containing risk goods.

Don’t get me wrong, obviously we would prefer not to find any risk goods – but the reality is we need to deliver a smarter and more efficient biosecurity system.

You will notice changes to our biosecurity screening by the end of March next year – but don’t worry, one thing that won’t change is that our busy beagles will still be hard at work sniffing out any trouble.