Flowers Sent By Facebook Were Reported To Biosecurity Authorities Over 'Disease' Claim
A federal politician has reported a gift from Facebook to biosecurity officials, with the unprompted delivery causing fears of "serious pests and diseases".
Tasmanian politician Andrew Wilkie, the Member for Denison in the federal parliament, called in the state's Department of Primary Industries after a 'floral arrangement' arrived at his office in Hobart on Monday.
The large display, described by the social media giant as "an Australian native wreath" featuring flowers, was not greeted warmly by the independent MP. Instead of putting it on his wall to brighten the room, he called in the authorities.
"Facebook sent me an unprompted promotional floral arrangement from Sydney," Wilkie told 10 daily.
"It immediately sparked concerns about implications for the Tasmanian environment and the likelihood of it being a serious breach of Tasmania’s tough but entirely warranted biosecurity laws."
The state's Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) said Tasmania has "some of the world's most stringent biosecurity requirements". The department's website warns that cut flowers and foliage, plants, seedlings and seeds may require special permits to be brought into Tasmania, while soil and weeds are not permitted.
"My office immediately contacted Biosecurity Tasmania who were very concerned that the arrangement had not been quarantine cleared and likely contained live seeds and the possibility of serious pests and diseases," Wilkie said.
"I was very pleased to see Biosecurity Tasmania responded quickly and professionally."
The MP posted a photo on social media on Monday afternoon, showing him holding the arrangement, which had been sealed in a large plastic bag bearing Biosecurity Tasmania branding.
In the post, he thanked Facebook for the delivery, but alleged that the company had "just breached Tas's biosecurity laws."
"Delighted to tip off Biosecurity Tasmania to raid all other Federal MPs and Senators' offices," he continued.
10 daily has contacted Biosecurity Tasmania for more information about the flower arrangement, and the agency's response to any other deliveries. 10 daily has been unable to verify if other Tasmanian MPs received similar deliveries.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said it was "reaching out to the Tasmanian authorities to understand more about what happened here".
"We sent an Australian native wreath to Mr Wilkie to spread some festive cheer and share information about a local business from his electorate that features in our 2019 Gift Guide," the spokesperson said.
Also on Monday, Facebook had launched its Christmas gift guide, encouraging Australians to purchase presents from regional towns to help drought-ravaged communities.
"The Gift Guide celebrates regional small business owners and encourages Australians to buy to support regional communities for the holidays, especially now in this time when so many are experiencing drought," the spokesperson said.
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