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23 May - 10:55 am NZ
Updated at 8:30 pm on 9 May 2012
Official papers reveal the Government intends further streamlining its border security system in a move the Labour Party and Public Service Association say will put the country's economy at risk.
A January Cabinet paper obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act outlines a range of suggestions to make trade easier and streamline the monitoring of people and cargo entering the country.
One of the main recommendations suggests cutting the number of staff checking people as they arrive.
PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff says the proposals in the Cabinet paper follow on from what happened three years ago when staff numbers were also cut.
However, Prime Minister John Key disputes whether there have been cuts to frontline biosecurity jobs and says the Government remains committed to safeguarding borders from biosecurity threats.
Labour's primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor says the country is only one biological incursion away from disaster.
However, Primary Industries Minister David Carter says biosecurity remains the Government's priority.
"It's a matter of making sure that we've adequately profiled the passengers before they get to New Zealand," he says.
The ministry also needed to make sure that if there was a first line of interview for arriving travellers, these checks were backed up by adequate biosecurity protection beyond that, Mr Carter says.
He says it is too early to make the call on what sort of saving could be made on staffing at the border.
"It's a preliminary piece of work to make sure that we have efficient border delivery, and yet, paramount in any further decisions will be a biosecurity concern".
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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