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Government leaves biosecurity to chance - again

The discovery of tropical fire ants - the latest in a long list of dangerous foreign pests to land here - has the National Party demanding, yet again, that the Government tighten up on biosecurity.

"What will it take for the Biosecurity Minister to finally act on our border controls?" asks National's Biosecurity spokesman, Shane Ardern.

"Obviously much more than the spread of the Argentine Ant throughout New Zealand, the increasing spread of the Varroa Bee Mite and the abandonment of the Gum Leaf Skeletoniser Moth eradication programme.

"With the Painted Apple Moth fighting hard to avoid eviction, the list goes on and on," says Mr Ardern.

"The estimated cost of $100 million to fight pest invasions should be enough to push the Biosecurity Minister to tighten up our borders, especially sea container checks.

"The fire ant is a health hazard, has a painful sting and is a predator to our native ant species - not a welcome guest in New Zealand.

"National wants action, not vague statements by the Minister about 'developing a sea container policy some time in the future.'

"There's been a 96% increase in container shipments entering New Zealand in the last eight years. The Minister should have developed a biosecurity programme to deal with this massive increase long before now.

"Let's use some of the $4.2 billion budget surplus on protecting our borders while we still have something to protect," says Mr Ardern.

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