Biosecurity officer outs screening shortcuts

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 07:57 18/05/2012

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Another former biosecurity officer has criticised border screening shortcuts as making it more likely for pests such as the Queensland fruitfly to elude officials and endanger local industries.

A former Auckland quarantine inspector recently told Fairfax Media he had quit because of concerns about the lack of screening being done on passengers arriving at the international airport.

Now, a former South Island biosecurity officer, who also left because of her concerns, has said shortcuts were being made across the board - including with cargo and ship arrivals.

''This new philosophy to do with not inspecting nearly as much, or as many products as they used to, is based on misinformation,'' she said.

The emphasis had also been taken away from stopping all goods at the border and there was now a heavier reliance on overseas checks, she said.

Some of the documents provided from international agencies were not genuine, she claimed, saying there reports of exporters in China being offered the ''actual fumigation'' or just the certificate.

''They put a lot of faith in offshore assurances which we just know from all our experiences that...some of them are not even worth looking at.''

Governments had strengthened screening after the fruitfly scares in 1995 and 1996 and following recent foot and mouth outbreaks in Britain, but had started taking short cuts again, she said.

A lone male Queensland fruitfly was found in a surveillance trap in an Auckland suburb last week, prompting an intense search to discover whether it was part of a colony.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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