Barney puts Depp's dogs on deadline

14 May, 2015 08:40 AM
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Ag Minister Barnaby Joyce says there are no quarantine exemptions for movie stars - even if that star is Johnny Depp.
Just because he's Johnny Depp does not mean he's exempt from Australian law
Ag Minister Barnaby Joyce says there are no quarantine exemptions for movie stars - even if that star is Johnny Depp.

FEDERAL Agriculture Barnaby Joyce has warned Hollywood actor Johnny Depp that his two Yorkshire terriers must be deported or face being euthanised after failing to follow Australian quarantine standards.

“A gentlemen by the name of John Christopher Depp – otherwise known as (Captain) Jack Sparrow - has decided to bring into our nation two dogs without actually getting the proper certification and the proper permits required,” Mr Joyce told media today.

“Basically it looks like he snuck them in.

“We found out he snuck them in because we saw him taking them to a poodle groomer.

“Now, Mr Depp either has to take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanise them. He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs.

“He can put them on the same charter jet he flew out on and fly them back out of our nation.”

Mr Joyce said the biosecurity action - which is being managed by his Department - was important to prevent entry of various diseases like rabies into Australia.

He said there was an established process for animals entering Australian borders, but Mr Depp – despite being declared the sexiest man alive, twice – is not above the law.

“It’s time Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States - and after that I don’t expect to be invited to the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture says it is investigating the alleged quarantine breach involving Mr Depp’s two Yorkshire terriers - Boo and Pistol.

It’s believed the pets were brought into Australia on the actor’s private plane last month when he returned for filming on the Gold Coast for the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Mr Joyce also told the ABC, “Just because he's Johnny Depp doesn't make him exempt from Australian laws”.

“If we are going to make an excuse for Johnny Depp because he's got a private jet and brought in his dogs, then I suppose you have to start making exemptions and excuses for everybody,” he said.

“The reason you can walk through a park in Brisbane and not have in the back of your mind, 'what happens if a rabid dog comes out and bites me or bites my kid?', is because we've kept that disease out.

“I'll tell you how close it is, it's in Bali, it's just next door, so this is not fanciful stuff and therefore we're very diligent about what comes into our nation.”

Exported or euthanised

The Department of Agriculture confirmed it became aware of an illegal animal importation on Tuesday, May 12.

“A biosecurity officer attended a Gold Coast property on 13 May and found two illegally imported dogs,” a statement said.

“Any animal which is imported without meeting Australia’s import conditions will be ordered into quarantine and will either be exported or euthanised.

“The dogs have been ordered into quarantine and the owners have been advised the dogs must be exported within 72 hours.”

The Department said it was reviewing how the dogs were brought into Australia without an import permit.

“Private jets are subject to the same strict biosecurity requirements as any other aircraft or vessel entering Australia,” it said.

“The Department is unable to comment on an individual’s imports or personal circumstances, regardless of whether that person is a public figure, and has no further comment to make about current investigations at this time.”

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Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

John Michelmore
14/05/2015 10:42:39 AM

One would have thought the ag bureaucrats could handle this, does it really need our ag minister to be involved in petty bio security incidents. minister Joyce should more focused on the job he is not doing ie the adoption of the seven senate recommendations from the grass fed cattle transaction inquiry.
Jacky
18/05/2015 12:34:11 PM

I imagine if i flew in a couple of dogs Barny wouldnt say anything, and the Dept of Ag would nail me to the wall.
Paul Cox
18/05/2015 2:12:38 PM

"Petty bio security incidents" have the very real potential to cost Australia billions in a short time frame and 100's of billions long term as well as destroying entire industries and the economy of vast areas of Australia. By using the profile of Depp Barnaby Joyce has in one step raised this issue of national importance to a level of prominence amongst urban dwellers never seen in my lifetime. If you think he was unaware of the type of reaction his statement would get and the flack he would cop, you are naive. Well done Barnaby. You use what you can use to get your issues out a BIG audience
Reporter
25/05/2015 12:48:34 PM

Biosecurity incidents can indeed cost Australia billions of dollars, but the Minister needs to do more than just raise awareness. He could start by raising staffing levels in biosecurity. Passenger and cargo levels are increasing, but staffing isn't: Dept of Ag staff (mid-2012): 5241 Dept of Ag staff (mid-2013): 5180 Dept of Ag staff (mid-2014): 4621 Dept of Ag staff (end-2014): 4521 Also, there's a good chance that when Johnny Depp flew in, he had twice as many dogs with him than the biosecurity detector dog unit had on at the airport. That's a worry.

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