OPINION: It's time for agriculture to rank higher in Cabinet.
“Biosecurity is fundamental to the protection of our environment, our economy and our cultural and social wellbeing,’ he says.
O’Connor is having both the Biosecurity Act and the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act (NAIT) overhauled to ensure they meet NZ’s future needs.
“The Biosecurity Act is now 26 years old. We’re operating in a different world than we were in 1993. Tourism, imports and the rise of online shopping have meant a corresponding increase in biosecurity risk.
“Over the last few years there has been an increase in large biosecurity responses including Mycoplasma bovis, Bonamia, Myrtle Rust and Queensland Fruit Fly.
“As the climate warms we face a greater threat from exotic insects and pests to our primary industries.”
Today he released the terms of reference that define the objectives and structure of the Biosecurity Act’s overhaul. The work will be led by Biosecurity New Zealand.
O’Connor says they have started working with Māori, industry, and others to upgrade the Act. We will look at every aspect of the Act including compensation and funding.
“The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak is the single biggest biosecurity event New Zealand has faced and it highlighted flaws in the NAIT scheme and Biosecurity Act. We’re putting that right”, Minister O’Connor says.
“We need to learn from the bovis experience and have better pieces of legislation as a result of it.
“I have been working with Biosecurity New Zealand and NAIT Limited, which manages the NAIT scheme, to fix it and make sure it is fit for the future.
“Earlier this year I announced a package of suggested changes to NAIT and Cabinet has now agreed to them.”
Next week O’Connor will introduce an amendment bill to Parliament to improve NAIT.
“The changes we’re making will take New Zealand a step closer to having the animal tracing scheme we need to keep our primary sectors and economy safe.”
All New Zealanders will have an opportunity to have their say. Dates for formal consultation on the Biosecurity Act will be announced later in the year and the public will have another opportunity to give feedback on the changes to the NAIT Act when the bill is in Select Committee.