Climate change, underfunding to blame for fruit fly incursions - Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor

Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor has defended a four-day delay between the discovery of another Queensland fruit fly and the find being made public.

The fly, found on Auckland's North Shore, is the 10th to be discovered since February. The intruders pose a risk to New Zealand's agriculture industry, and are the main reason visitors can't bring fruit and vegetables into the country. 

O'Connor told Newshub Nation on Saturday officials had to be sure of the risk posed by the find on July 15 before making the details public.

"We have to double-check that indeed it's a fruit fly, where it's from and whether it's only one."

Fruit flies aren't normally found this late in the year.

"The issue here is that normally in the winter, they'd be in hibernation. Because of the warmer temperatures that we're seeing... we've got different patterns of behaviour with fruit flies and many other pests and diseases," said O'Connor, blaming not just climate change but also "the last nine years of National" not increasing funding for biosecurity.

"The reality is we have more trade, more people coming in, the threat is growing all the time." 

Rather than increase fines at the border, O'Connor says better education for visitors is needed.

"We've had very average video played on some of the airlines - we've got to make sure very good video on all the airlines is played, that we're doing everything we can to notify people of their responsibilities before we whack them - $400 is quite a fine."

National last year said it wanted to boost the fine from $400 to $1000.

O'Connor on Friday announced a two-stage review of the country's biosecurity laws, which were last updated in 1993. 



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