21 December 2009
Christmas cheer is on its way as Santa and his reindeer successfully clear quarantine for another year.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said Santa had met Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements by ensuring his reindeer, sleigh and sack full of presents were not carrying pests or diseases.
“It really doesn’t matter who you are when it comes to protecting Australia’s plants and animals from disease - everyone has to pass the test,” Mr Burke said.
Every year, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) officers and specially trained detector dogs check thousands of Christmas visitors and mail items coming into Australia to ensure they only carry Christmas cheer.
Last year, AQIS intercepted about 40,000 mail items of quarantine interest from October to January. Depending on the quarantine risk, these items were released, treated for a fee, returned to the sender for a fee or destroyed.
“Prohibited gifts include pine cones, spruce cuttings, mistletoe, Christmas cakes with suet or uncooked fruit or nuts, salami and other meats, cheeses, straw Christmas decorations and other plant material and animal products,” Mr Burke said.
“Items like herbal teas and home-cooked treats can introduce pests and disease, and seeds or pinecones can propagate or carry pests that could damage Australia’s bushland or plantation forests.
“Santa has played an important role in safeguarding Australia’s biosecurity and I encourage all Australians to do their part by understanding and complying with quarantine laws this Christmas.”
More information on prohibited items can be found at http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis.