NZ biosecurity at risk – former inspectors
Sun, 17 Jun 2012 6:07p.m.
By Brook Sabin
Two former inspectors have expressed serious concerns over New Zealand’s biosecurity, and accuse the Government of playing Russian roulette with our economy.
The former inspectors say they're disillusioned that millions of people are being let into the country without any x-rays.
More than 2.1 million people have walked straight out of airports, without x-rays, since the new "direct exit system" was introduced 18 months ago.
Tonight, for the first time, former inspectors have come forward saying it has to stop.
“I think sooner or later there's going to be a serious outbreak of disease or pest in the country that could have been avoided if people were x-rayed at the border,” says former biosecurity inspector Phil Rhodes.
The discovery of a Queensland fruit fly in West Auckland last month caused restrictions on fruit movements and sent growers into a panic.
“The potential for serious economic damage to primary industries is very real,” says Mr Rhodes.
Direct exits allow most Australian and New Zealand passport holders with nothing to declare to bypass x-rays.
“Most people believe their bags are being checked somehow; that's not the case,” says another former inspector.
This former inspector left the job, disillusioned. He wants to remain anonymous to protect his new job.
“The emphasis was very much on getting people out the door as fast as possible,” he says. “How you don't compromise biosecurity by doing that, I just fail to see.”
“The Government may not realise it, but they're really playing Russian roulette with our economy,” says Mr Rhodes.
But the Ministry of Primary Industries is strongly defending the direct exit path.
Nobody from the ministry would front for an interview, but said in a statement those who avoid x-rays are low risk and it's wrong to suggest they're not checked.
They say passengers still have to use declaration forms.
“They may declare they haven't got anything, but later on they realise they have got something,” says Mr Rhodes.
Passengers are also subject to detector dogs and profiling.
“I suspect that very little relevant profiling is done,” says the other former inspector.
Both men are clear in their opinion – a disease or pest outbreak is inevitable unless 100 percent screening is reinstated.
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3/07/2012 4:07:26 p.m.
Kerry Hart wrote:
When inspectors become disillusioned enough to leave the job it shows that the Government isn't listening to the people who are closest to the action. Having been a blue supporter for many years I am now reassessing whether they are showing the leadership that NZ needs right now. As a horticulturist I understand the damage that can be done through this omission and I am horrified. No wonder the greenies are doing so well in the polls. Quelle Horreur.
18/06/2012 3:20:26 p.m.
wasn't the government freaking out about terrorists and stuff a while back?
haven't there been instances of spies or whatever getting hold of NZ passports?
yeeeeah... not really seeing how this happened or why anyone thought it was a good idea.
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