9 May 2012

Growers worry border changes will weaken biosecurity

1:57 pm on 9 May 2012

The horticulture industry fears Government plans for how it monitors people and cargo entering the country will further weaken biosecurity controls.

A January Cabinet paper, obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act, outlines a range of proposals the Government is considering to make trade easier and to cut costs.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock says it will put biosecurity at risk.

One of the main recommendations is for passengers to experience less visible checking as they pass through airports.

Mr Silcock says that those checks remind people that New Zealand's biosecurity is paramount, and removing obvious signs of New Zealand's biosecurity policy may lead to travellers forgetting the issue.

But Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the industry should not worry.

"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".