[30 April/Stuff]

The Ministry for Primary Industries has unveiled its future-focused biosecurity intelligence squad. The early waning squad was still in development but would work closely with its Australian counterparts. Biosecurity Minister, Damien O’Connor, said intelligence would be shared with both Australia and industry sectors. Mr O’Connor said the unit would use smarter technology and skilled analysts to source and look at all available information on overseas pest and diseases. He noted that earlier signals of potential threats would help border staff to make better decisions to target air passengers and cargo that would most likely carry risk goods. He said that it gave a clear focus and a line of accountability within the MPI. He noted that biosecurity was New Zealand’s number one challenge with several responses underway such as Mycoplasma bovis. Set up costs for the new units within MPI (which also include Forestry, Fishing and Food Safety) will be $6.8 million, with operating costs of $2.3 million per year.