Biosecurity funding will be boosted by $24.9 million over four years, and a new border clearance levy will be introduced in measures announced in the budget aimed to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the biosecurity funding is in addition to $2 million of capital funding to increase border capabilities.
Molly is one of two harrier hounds being trained as a detector dog at the borders by MPI.
“New Zealand has a world-class biosecurity system but there will always be a need for improvement. This investment will help future-proof our system to deal with the constantly changing demands of modern biosecurity,” he says.
“The funding will be used to expand New Zealand’s ability to detect pests and diseases, stop risk at the border and deal with risk offshore.”
The new border clearance levy is expected to take effect from January 1, 2016, and will be around $16 for arriving passengers and around $6 for departing passengers – although the exact amounts will be subject to public consultation.
The levy will help the Government to protect New Zealand from imported pests, diseases, illegal drugs and contraband and bring this country in line with border approaches by other countries, Nathan Guy and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner say.
The Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Customs Service together spend around $100 million a year on border clearance for passengers and crew.
“In the past, these costs have been met by taxpayers. The Government considers it is fairer for the costs to fall on passengers travelling internationally,” Mr Guy says.
The levy will help ensure that border services can match increased future demand. It is expected to raise around $100 million per year and will fully meet the costs of passenger border clearance by 2017/18.
“Our borders are dealing with increasing volumes,” Mr Guy says. “Arriving air passenger volumes have grown by more than 18 per cent from 4.4 million in 2009 to 5.2 million in 2014, and are expected to continue growing at around 3.5 per cent each year.
“The levy will help ensure our border processes stay fit for purpose into the future.”
Ms Wagner says the levy brings passenger clearance in line with clearing cargo imports, which is already funded by levies and fees.
The new biosecurity funding also announced in the budget will be used for a range of new biosecurity initiatives, including:improving New Zealand’s import health standards to ensure they continue to keep pace with changing science and focus on highest priority risks; greater auditing of other countries’ systems to ensure they are compliant with New Zealand’s unique biosecurity requirements; expanding biosecurity detector dog capacity to manage risk at the border and introducing more x-ray machines to allow for faster screening of increasing passenger volumes.
“This funding will supplement the recently-launched Biosecurity 2025 project, which will provide a clear direction for the biosecurity system and identify any changes or improvements needed over the next 10 years,” Mr Guy says.