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13 November 2000
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) internal management audit mechanisms are designed to find fault and prompt improvements. MAF undertakes audits of its procedures regularly focusing on compliance and quality improvements.
The audits make recommendations for improvements. Each finalised audit is reviewed and serious issues are remedied immediately.
Grant Burney, MAF's Group Manager, MAF Operations said the audit reports for the past 12 months do not disclose any fundamental biosecurity breach, but showed a gap between some everyday frontline practices and the procedural manuals which backed those practices up.
"For example MAF's new entry into the field of GMO quarantine supervision does not show a quarantine breach, but the reports do highlight a need for further education and training in this new area," he said.
"In effect, we have the highest standards for our biosecurity. We already exceed the standards for fruitfly detection, and for the number of times fruit and other produce is found at our airport and ports by the MAF detector dog teams. We set the standards high, and we've got a compliance group that goes out and audits against those very high standards and tells us whenever we are not meeting them."
MAF has achieved international ISO standard accreditation for 96 percent of its quarantine employees and processes, and is in the process of gaining accreditation for the rest. MAF is the first biosecurity agency in the world to achieve this.
MAF has also achieved accreditation to the qualification framework for its Diploma in Biosecurity. MAF is progressing towards all its biosecurity and quarantine officers working towards gaining the Diploma.
Biosecurity at the border is just one part of maintaining the total biosecurity protection of New Zealand. "The process starts with government to government certification agreements on produce, " said Mr Burney.
"It carries on with the work of quarantine officers at the border, and post-border inspection. MAF animal and plant laboratories maintain direct surveillance, which includes an emergency response capability. The last part is biosecurity surveillance carried out by members of the public and the agricultural and conservation institutions in alerting MAF to pest and disease incursions through the MAF hotline (0800-809-966)," he said.
MAF's responsibility is to deliver the biosecurity systems and personnel to standards agreed with the Minister. The Ministry is responsible for the adequacy and protections surrounding the services. The internal audit process ensures direct feedback to senior MAF managers on how we are meeting the world's highest standards.
For further information contact:
Grant Burney, MAF's Group Manager, MAF Operations. Telephone: 04-474-4289