NZ 'better prepared' to handle foot and mouth

  • 22/10/2015

New Zealand is better prepared to handle an outbreak of foot and mouth disease than it was two years ago, the auditor-general's office says.

In a highly critical 2013 report, the office warned there was "a serious lack of preparation".

It said if there was an outbreak similar to the one in Britain in 2001, up to a million animals would need to be slaughtered and the cost to the economy would be $8 billion in the first year and $13b in the second.

In a follow-up report that's just been released, the office says the Ministry for Primary Industries has made good progress.

"The ministry is better prepared for a potential outbreak of foot and mouth disease than in 2013," it said.

"It continues to work on improving its foot and mouth disease preparedness programme."

The report says MPI's overall preparedness for biosecurity incursions has also improved.

"The ministry has prepared a response model to deal with all types of responses," it said.

"It is working better with response partners, introducing performance measures and supporting a culture of continuous improvement."

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says biosecurity has been his number one priority.

"MPI has done a lot of work since the initial audit," he said.

"We've beefed up the border with 130 new staff, new x-ray machines, and increased the number of detector dog teams."

Mr Guy says the fact that the auditor-general's office hasn't made any further recommendations shows good progress has been made.