Plans for big changes to the biosecurity system, including updating the Biosecurity Act and animal tracing law, has been unveiled which aims at strengthening New Zealand’s ability to protect our natural environment, our economy, and our cultural and social well-being.
The Biosecurity Act, now 26 years old, will be overhauled along with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Act to ensure they meet future needs. Since the time these laws were created, the country has seen an exponential increase in tourism, in foreign trade, and the rise of online shopping.
All those trends correspond to new challenges in the realm of biosecurity, and work needs to be done to ensure our current laws are adequate to confront these new risks.
The work to identify changes to be made to the Biosecurity Act will be led by Biosecurity New Zealand, and the agency have started work with Māori, industry, and other stakeholders to identify upgrades to be made to the Act. Every aspect of the Act, including compensation and funding, will be under review.
The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak exposed flaws in our NAIT scheme and Biosecurity Act, and the planned overhauls represent the Coalition Government’s intention to ensure another outbreak does not happen again.
Cabinet have already approved the plan, and next week legislation will be introduced to Parliament to improve NAIT. Formal consultation with the public will also begin when the NAIT bill enters Select Committee stage, while consultations for changes to the Biosecurity Act will happen later this year.