Comment: Federated Farmers is urging members for feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the Biosecurity Act, writes Biosecurity Policy Advisor Philippa Rawlinson.

Every farmer has a favourite pair of holey socks that slip nicely into their gumboots.

The numerous holes don't matter because you know you have another layer of protection around them keeping your feet warm and dry - your trusty gumboot.

But sometimes even the trusty gumboot bursts a hole.


New Zealand's biosecurity system is somewhat in the same vein, it has multiple layers and if something slips through then another layer of our biosecurity system will catch it before it causes too much damage.

But there are more holes in the sock that is our biosecurity system than we'd like.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Poplar saw fly, fruit flies and then new Granulate ambrosia beetle to name a few recent arrivals.

There is still some concern around the beagles operating at Auckland International Airport and whether they are always on the job.

While calling out the failures of the system, we do need to give credit where it is due.

With the support of industry, Biosecurity New Zealand is on the road to eradication of the insect pest pea weevil in the Wairarapa, and there have been no further detections of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Tauranga.

Late last year Federated Farmers called for an independent review of the biosecurity system which would have looked at pre-border risk management, at border management, readiness and response.


From our perspective the purpose of the review was to look at the shortcomings of the existing system and find opportunities for improvement.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Photo / Supplied
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Photo / Supplied

The Government has committed to a review of the Biosecurity Act and Federated Farmers is pleased with this outcome.

We are gearing up to make submissions to the review of the Act which has been subject to growing pressure not catered for throughout the system.

Trade has burgeoned and tourism has grown and those charged with running biosecurity have been left to operate with a limited budget.

We seek feedback from our membership and farmers on what areas of the Biosecurity Act need strengthening or improvement and what parts of the Act work.

New Zealanders need clarity around compensation provisions and ensuring the new legislation drives positive behaviour to reduce the threats posed.

Questions have already been raised about how the biosecurity system could and should be funded.

Under a government industry agreement (GIA), industry and the Government are sharing in the costs of response and readiness activities.

At a regional level, farmers are contributing to pest reduction through regional rates. But should taxpayers have a greater financial contribution to the biosecurity system?

It is vital New Zealand has a biosecurity system that effectively protects New Zealanders, our way of life, our natural and productive resources and biodiversity from the harmful effects of pests and diseases.

The review of the Act, in theory, should mean that processes that govern biosecurity are strengthened.

In action that must be the result.