Joint Media Release

Australia’s Christmas present to Norfolk Island

Barnaby Joyce
Australian Minister for Agriculture

Ron Ward
Norfolk Island Minister for the Environment


19 December 2014

Norfolk Island is about to receive a very special Christmas gift from the Australian Government to help keep the island free from exotic pests and diseases—Dawson the detector dog.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said detector dogs have long been an important part of our frontline biosecurity measures and that Dawson will help strengthen the Island's biosecurity system. 

"Our biosecurity detector dogs are on patrol every single day at our international airports and mail centres sniffing out prohibited items such as seeds, plants, vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat with their keen sense of smell," Minister Joyce said.

"During his time working for the Department of Agriculture, Dawson screened around 140,000 passengers and intercepted 2,161 items of undeclared biosecurity risk material.

"Dawson has detected a variety of items including cuttings and seeds, plants covered in pests and diseases, along with meat products including duck tongues and salami. 

"He even found prohibited seeds on a passenger that worked in the nursery industry—he's a very special dog who we know will do a great job in his new role."

Norfolk Island's Minister for the Environment, Ron Ward, said it was vital to protect the precious and unique flora and fauna on the Island from exotic pests and diseases.

"Norfolk Island is renowned for its natural beauty and pristine environment—and we need to make sure it's protected from plant and animal pests and diseases," Minister Ward said.

"Dawson will be an invaluable help in making sure passengers and cargo don't bring in any unwanted guests.

"By protecting Norfolk Island —he'll also be protecting mainland Australia with the screening of outgoing passengers."

Dawson the detector dog will be in operation at Norfolk Island International Airport from January 2015. Dawson's deployment is supported by the $1.5 million pest and disease survey funded by the Australian Government.