27 November 2001 Media Statement
No Government pay out for termite damage
The Government will continue to fund the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to eliminate Australian subterranean termites at Otorohanga but it will not compensate residents for property damage caused by the termites, the Associate Minister for Biosecurity, Marian Hobbs said today.
The government rejected a Local Government and Environment parliamentary select committee recommendation that it make ex-gratia payments to affected property owners.
Marian Hobbs said any ex-gratia payments to property owners would be inconsistent with compensation provisions under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and with previous treatment of residential property damaged by termites.
"Similar requests for ex-gratia payments, such as at Seatoun in 1991, were declined," she said. "It is important we do not set a precedent or raise expectations that could apply to any losses caused by organisms in New Zealand.
"The most appropriate and long-term solution for the affected homeowners is the successful elimination of termites from their properties. Significant progress has been made and no termite activity has been recorded in the Otorohanga area since February 2000."
Subterranean termites were first reported from Otorohanga in 1990, but are thought to have entered the country via hardwood utility poles, imported from Australia in the early 1950s. They cause significant damage to timber, wood structures and trees even before their presence becomes apparent.
Despite treatment carried out after each report, there were recurrences of termite activity until 1999. Sentricon bait stations placed at selected properties in November 1999 appear to have been effective in eliminating the termites.