A shipment of cars from Europe has been directed to leave Australia aftersnails that could threaten our cropping and horticultural industries weredetected on board.

Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said four other vessels carrying thecars had been banned from unloading them because protecting Australia’sbiosecurity integrity was critically important.

“Whether you’re a passenger coming through the airport or a multinationalcompany importing bulk goods the same stringent standards apply,” MinisterMcKenzie said.

“Based on the risk we identified, my department has refused permission for afurther four shipments of potentially contaminated vehicles to offload inAustralia.

“The importer has been working with my department to manage the biosecurityrisk and I thank them for their cooperation.

“This followed the detection of an infestation of Heath snails (Xerolentaobvia) on vehicle shipments to four states involving about 900 cars.

“These hitchhiker pests threaten Australia’s environment and agricultureindustries because they feed on a wide variety of plants including crops likealfalfa, lupins, clover, wheat, barley and fruit trees as well as nativeplants and weeds.

“We take threats to Australia’s animal and plant health very seriously as ourpest and disease free status underpins our export proposition to the world –we’re clean, green and safe.

“More than 30 snails have been found by biosecurity officers in vehicleshipments to date on cars imported to Fremantle, Melbourne, Port Kembla andBrisbane.

“The person in charge of the goods has been given a direction to export thevehicles and vessels on the water have been informed that they cannot unloadhere.

“Australia’s world-class biosecurity system is national treasure and thisincident underscores that it is a shared responsibility between our governmentand industry, especially at a time when threats are increasing throughincreased international movement of passengers and cargo.

“The importer has been working closely with the department to manage thebiosecurity risk after the department considered treatment options to managethe risk onshore and determined the most appropriate action was to export thevehicles from Australia.”

Heath snails are a pest in south-eastern Europe and have established localisedpopulations in Canada and the United States of America.

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