Govt announces big changes for biosecurity and NAIT systems

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has unveiled significant changes to New Zealand’s biosecurity system, including new law changes to strengthen animal tracing and details of an overhaul of the Biosecurity Act.

The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – the single biggest biosecurity event New Zealand faced – highlighted flaws in the NAIT scheme and the Biosecurity Act.,

“We’re putting that right”, Minister O’Connor says.

“We need learn from the bovis experience and have better pieces of legislation as a result of it.

“I have been working with Biosecurity New Zealand and NAIT Limited, which manages the NAIT scheme, to fix it and make sure it is fit for the future.

The Biosecurity Act is now 26 years old, Mr O’Connor said.

“We’re operating in a different world than we were in 1993. Tourism, imports and the rise of online shopping have meant a corresponding increase in biosecurity risk.”

He noted that in recent years there has been an increase in large biosecurity responses including Mycoplasma bovis, Bonamia, Myrtle Rust and Queensland Fruit Fly.

“As the climate warms we face a greater threat from exotic insects and pests to our primary industries.”

He released the terms of reference that define the objectives and structure of the Biosecurity Act’s overhaul.

“The work will be led by Biosecurity New Zealand. They have started working with Māori, industry, and others to upgrade the Act. We will look at every aspect of the Act including compensation and funding.”

Earlier this year Mr O’Connor announced a package of suggested changes to NAIT.  The Cabinet has now agreed to them.

Next week he will introduce an amendment bill to Parliament to improve NAIT.

“The changes we’re making will take New Zealand a step closer to having the animal tracing scheme we need to keep our primary sectors and economy safe.”

All New Zealanders will have an opportunity to have their say.

Dates for formal consultation on the Biosecurity Act will be announced later in the year and the public will have another opportunity to give feedback on the changes to the NAIT Act when the bill is in Select Committee.

More information about the overhaul of the Biosecurity Act and the NAIT Act is available on the MPI website.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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