10 Sep 2009

Havoc feared after job cuts at biosecurity agency

7:56 pm on 10 September 2009

Critics fear a decision by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to cut 55 frontline jobs from its biosecurity division could wreak havoc on export industries.

In July, Biosecurity NZ announced it would be cut 30 frontline border security jobs mainly in the shipping area and not fill another 30 positions, because of a significant drop in trade. It has now reduced that number by five.

MAF Biosecurity insists there will be the same level of protection at borders but exporters are critical.

Horticulture New Zealand says just one slip up could hurt the industry - which is worth $2 billion annually - by closing markets overnight.

Chief executive Peter Silcock says MAF should increase its personnel to avoid disasters. Federated Farmers Biosecurity agrees.

The Flower Exporters Association is also worried there is insufficent protection for their $40 to $50 million annual trade.

MAF assures these industries that biosecurity will not be compromised.