It says the Act is now over 25 years old and has received just two substantive amendments, in 1997 and 2012. A comprehensive review of the Act has not been undertaken.
The ministry says over the last 25 years, there have been changes in technology, our climate, increased volumes of goods entering New Zealand, greater diversity of places of origin and growing expectations for collaboration and shared responsibility in the system.
"These changes have put pressures on the system and the Act, and were not contemplated 25 years ago when the Act was first passed.
"There are growing concerns between the regulators and stakeholders over what the biosecurity system should achieve, and how it should operate. Including increasing expectations that the system can achieve a level of protection that eliminates risk, and a belief that any incursion is a failure of the biosecurity system. Internationally, our trading partners have expressed concern with New Zealand’s slow response times to market access requests."
The ministry says it is timely to undertake an overhaul of the Act to determine:
- Those parts of the Act that remain effective and fit for purpose;
- Those parts of the Act that require amendment to continue to deliver to the Act’s primary objectives; and
- The amendments that are required to ensure the Act provides an effective legal framework for delivery of a biosecurity system that can continue to manage the ongoing risk of pests and diseases to our way of life.
It says it will lead a forward-looking and strategic overhaul of the Act. This overhaul will focus on ensuring the regulatory settings are appropriate and the Act remains future focused in light of emerging challenges and opportunities.
The ministry says it will carry out public consultation for the first focus, which is to resolve the most urgent issues around the Act. It plans to finish this consultation by the end of 2019.
Public consultation on the second focus - issues including those which have outcomes that are environmental, social and cultural - is planned to finish in the second half of 2020.