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10 September 1996
The Ministry of Agriculture is to receive extra resources as part of a $20 million funding boost for airport quarantine.
The Minister of Agriculture Lockwood Smith made the announcement at the inaugural graduation ceremony of the MAF Quarantine Detector Dog Programme teams at Auckland International Airport this morning. Two teams graduated.
The $20 million will go towards an integrated quarantine detection programme, which will include new x-ray machines, dog detector teams, prosecutions, new in-flight videos and passenger declaration forms in a variety of languages, a public awareness campaign in New Zealand, plus increased information for officials in New Zealand’s overseas ports and improved signs and amnesty bins at international airports.
From the funding, seven new x-ray machines, capable of detecting quarantine material in luggage, will cost $736,000, and $2 million will boost the number of MAF’s quarantine dog detector teams over three years.
MAF will be advertising for new staff in the coming weeks and intends initially to hire up to 80 people as quarantine officers and assistants, which will double the present staff numbers at Auckland International Airport, which is where most will go.
The funding boost will see Auckland International Airport with 4 x-ray units and 5 detector dog teams; Auckland International Mail Centre with 1 x-ray unit and 3 detector dog teams; Christchurch International Airport with 1 x-ray unit and 4 detector dogs teams and Wellington with 1 x-ray unit and 2 detector dog teams. The detector dogs will also be used at Hamilton, Palmerston North, Dunedin and Queenstown regional airports.
Neil Hyde, MAF Quarantine Service manager, said the deployment of the x-ray units, detector dog teams and quarantine officers and assistants will be matched to the level of demand at any given time. “While maintaining agricultural security is of critical importance, MAF is also very mindful of the need to avoid delays and congestions for the travelling public,” Mr Hyde said.
The funding increase comes in response to a threat earlier this year to New Zealand’s $1.4 billion horticulture industry, with the finding of fruit fly in Mt Roskill, which is believed to have been brought into the country in smuggled fruit from overseas.
John Bongiovanni, National Advisor for Border Inspection, said it was important for MAF to introduce the changes as soon as possible because escalating passenger flows and the onset of warmer weather increased the threat of more fruit fly infested material arriving and the pest becoming established here. So far this year, 36 detections of fruit fly have been made at New Zealand international airports.
MAF will commence immediately to implement the programme.
For further information:
Neil Hyde, MAF Quarantine Service manager, ph: 025 928254
John Bongiovanni, National Advisor, Border Inspection, ph: 025 480650