World's most expensive fruit salad means a not-so-merry Christmas
23 December 2004
Two Swedish tourists learned this week that breaking Australia’s quarantine laws can make for a very miserable and expensive Christmas, when they were fined almost $9000 for trying to smuggle a handful of fruit through Cairns International Airport.
The visitors pleaded guilty to importing prohibited goods and failing to declare quarantine risk items — three bananas, two mandarins, an apple and a pineapple — and were fined a total of $8928.
Routine X-ray examination of their bags revealed the fruit. When an Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) officer asked the travellers if they’d been unable to understand the Quarantine questions on their Incoming Passenger Cards they replied that they understood English well.
According to AQIS acting Cairns international Airport manager Kylie Burns, the fine sends a strong message to visitors that Australia means business when it comes to protecting our agriculture industries from exotic pests and diseases.
“Queenslanders are all too aware of the risks to their livelihoods associated with illegally imported fruit,” Kylie says.
“The recent detection of citrus canker in the Emerald district has brought home to them just how vulnerable our agriculture industries are to exotic disease — and how much control and eradication programs cost industry and the community.”
AQIS screens all incoming flights for pest and disease risks, using a combination of detector dogs, X-ray examination and physical inspection of passengers’ bags.
“Cairns International Airport has 52 Quarantine officers, four X-ray machines and four detector dog teams, so travellers should remember that they will be caught if they put Australia at risk by smuggling quarantine items,” Kylie says.
Kylie Burns DAFF Media +61 2 6272 3232
17 Jul 2006