9 Apr 2011

MPs told proposed biosecurity levy unfair

6:08 am on 9 April 2011

The head of the horticulture industry body has told MPs hearing submissions on the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill a proposed levy is an injustice.

The Primary Production Select Committee is hearing submissions on the Bill, which proposes some of the most significant changes to the biosecurity system in more than a decade.

The bill contains provisions for a new levy, and the cost of any biosecurity incursion would be shared between the Government and the relevant sector.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton told the commitee the levy is not fair on exporters.

He says it is the responsibility of the Crown to protect the economy.

The former president of the Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute, John Lancashire, told the committee there needs to be a rebalancing of free trade policies and protection from biosecurity incursions.

He said New Zealand is often seen internationally as a bit weak - compared for example to Australia which kept out New Zealand apples for 90 years - and perhaps this country needs to "have a bit more steel" on these things.

Mr Lancashire says another problem is that there is a serious difference in opinion between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and industry.

He says that will only get worse once the Ministry of Fisheries in included in the agency as the larger the bureaucracy the more difficult communication becomes.