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Source: New Zealand Government

The Government is providing a funding boost to Customs to employ more staff to expand border surveillance, further strengthening the Government’s defence against Covid-19, Customs Minister Jenny Salesa announced today.

“Cabinet has agreed to a $50 million funding boost for the New Zealand Customs Service to further support its 24/7 on-the-ground presence at all international maritime ports.  This is a significant investment in our ongoing efforts to keep all New Zealanders safe,” Jenny Salesa said.

Customs is the lead government agency – working closely with the Ministry of Health, New Zealand Defence Force and other agencies – to enforce the Order, which helps to protect New Zealand from the risk of COVID-19 entering the country at the maritime border.

“Customs has been doing a great job staffing the maritime border 24/7, more recently with assistance from New Zealand Defence Force personnel,” Jenny Salesa said.

“To date, Customs has been able to redeploy staff from within the organisation to the sea ports. This includes sea border workers seconded to the Maritime Order, and airport staff due to the drop in international travel. However increasing the overall level of staff at the sea ports demonstrates the Government’s commitment to standing up a permanent and long term system of defence to keep Covid out.

“The $40 million in new funding, with another $10 million in a contingency funding, will allow Customs to deploy the around 300 people necessary to provide services at all New Zealand seaports and to coordinate and support that nationwide operation.

“While ports represent a lower risk than some other border-facing facilities the Government is   nevertheless taking it seriously. This will ensure there are more Customs staff to protect our maritime border, while also allowing Customs to continue its other important work, such as protecting New Zealand from illicit drugs, facilitating trade and travel, and collecting Crown revenue.

“The Government has run tight border restrictions to prioritise the return of New Zealanders and ensure that COVID-19 does not enter New Zealand via the maritime border.

“We are now in a position to make some adjustments to our settings to resource this intensive, but extremely important Customs work,” Jenny Salesa said.