Wasting Money at the BorderWednesday, Mar 7, 2001
The continued entry of exotic diseases and insects across our borders seems to be permanently with us
following the new discovery of a nest of Red Fire Ants near the Auckland Airport.
Expert professionals have a tendency to demonstrate a superb confidence in their systems up to the point
where they are challenged by real incursions. Once again it was the lawn mower man who identified
the existence of the Red Fire Ants - not some highly trained white-coated expert baggage checker.
We live in a society that appears to have developed teams that are expert in catastrophic future outcome
denial or alternately are post event breakdown responsibility transferors.
As a community we waver between blind belief that the experts know all and will prevent disaster or
a total mistrust of science as a management tool to prevent plague like incursions. The community
group in the ascendancy use a perverse logic that says, these things are only economic and unnatural
and require nasty chemicals to stop them - and we don't want any thing to do with all those.
Reality sits somewhere in the middle and it seems to point to the need for a series of defence lines
rather than belief that one shot promotions or systems are all that is needed.
The Bee Varroa Mite or the Ross River Mosquito are examples where too little, too late, too much time
to elapse before eradication actions were organised.
Money spent on awareness pamphlets for don't know, don't care, travellers may satisfy the demand for
any sort of action - right now; but it is not a useful use of funds to prevent exotic disease or
insect disasters in the long term which travel by many differing means besides travellers baggage.
Strengthening the primary first, second and more lines of defence, although not as flashy will be a
far more effective use of scarce resources.