Voices 02/12/2013

Christmas crawlies on naughty list

The holiday period is the busiest time of the year for biosecurity staff at Australia’s international airports.

Biosecurity officers expect to see almost 3 million people come through the airport during the Christmas and New Year period and will seize about 43,000 items – if previous years are any indication.

Already this year we have been endowed with a witch’s cauldron of odd finds including whole skinned frogs, dried pigs’ ears and a whole shark in a glass jar. These are all dangerous to our nation far beyond their peculiar ghoulishness.

Screening incoming passengers, x-raying baggage and having detector dog teams throughout terminals helps to protect Australia's agricultural industries and unique environment.

While demonstrations like the one today highlight the significance of this work, it’s important to remember that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility.

Australians returning from overseas and families whose relatives will visit over the break need to think carefully about what they’re bringing into the country.

Some items, even those intended as gifts, may harbour pests and diseases which could put Australia’s valuable agricultural industries at risk.

At the very least, this could mean you’re delayed at the airport, but it could also mean your items are destroyed or you could even face fines or imprisonment.

This year, I urge everyone to play their part in keeping Australia clean and green so we can all enjoy this festive season free from foreign pests and diseases.

di Barnaby Joyce