FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says everyone should watch the video clip featuring Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and wife Amber Heard discussing the importance of Australian biosecurity standards.
But he’s not commenting on whether Sydney radio host Kyle Sandilands is one of them.
Ms Heard and Mr Depp made the 40 second video shortly after the actor’s wife pleaded guilty to their pet dogs Boo and Pistol arriving in Australia illegally last year without the proper paperwork and declarations.
A hearing was held in the Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast this morning relating to the incident that occurred in April 2015.
Ms Herd received a one month good behaviour bond of $1000 for making a false declaration on her incoming passenger card and saying she was not travelling with any live animals, when the two dogs were in her luggage on arrival.
Ms Heard and Mr Depp made the video message expressing remorse for her actions where she said Australia was a wonderful island with a treasure trove of unique plants, animals and people that must be protected.
It had close to 200,000 views on Mr Joyce’s Facebook page in over two hours.
Since the incident, Mr Joyce has been involved in a tongue in cheek war of words with the veteran Hollywood actor which ignited after he held a press conference in Canberra initially warning the two pet terriers must return to the US within 72-hours or else they’d be euthanised.
Mr Joyce was heavily chastised by Mr Sandilands who took objection to the minister’s comments media conference saying it was time Pistol and Boo “buggered off” back to the US.
“And after that I don’t expect to be invited to the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean,” Mr Joyce said.
The incident resulted in Mr Joyce lodging a complaint to the media watchdog about the radio host’s choice of language during a live interview on May 15, last year.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) eventually said the radio station’s licensee did not breach the decency provision, in relevant codes.
The ACMA report said the complainant submitted was that there was “a stream of verbal abuse, inappropriate referencing, and the lack of courtesies that would normally be afforded to a Minister of the Crown”.
In response, the licensee submitted the radio interview was conducted in the context of the minister making what could be seen as “inflammatory statements in public on the issue of Johnny Depp’s dogs”.
Today Mr Joyce said the video was not something the Hollywood couple would have willingly wanted to do but he hoped as many people as possible would watch it.
“I’m not ashamed of it at all,” he said.
“I want it to be as widely viewed as we can possibly get it because the more widely viewed it is the more we have people who might be unaware of our biosecurity arrangements, and as they come into our nation, they will say ‘this is one thing the Australians were red hot about biosecurity; don’t take it as a joke – this is one thing they’re known for’.
Asked if the video should be screened on aeroplanes as they land in Australia, Mr Joyce said however it can be used it to try and reinforce the biosecurity message was good – but did not respond when asked whether Mr Sandilands should watch it.
Mr Joyce said he was aware of the video being offered as a potential outcome of the court case with discussions held between the parties and department to department.
But he stressed he wasn’t involved in those talks and the court was “completely and utterly independent” and it was therefore a “realm” of the court to accept any offer, as an outcome.
Mr Joyce spoke about various biosecurity risks including Foot and Mouth disease that he said could “devastate rural economies; absolutely tear them apart”, from the trucking industry to abattoirs, stock and station agents, farmers and also mums and dads who buy meat.
“It would be a terrible outcome,” he said.
“We need people, when they fly into our nation, to understand, just like other countries and other parts of the world, there are particular nuances that you have to respect,” he said.
“When you come to Australia you must respect biosecurity requirements; we are so proud of them in this nation.
“We are an island continent (but) we’ve had terrible outcomes with the introduction of certain pests; whether it’s prickly pear, rabbits or cane toads.
“What this court case does, amongst a whole range of things, it reinforces that this nation takes its biosecurity incredibly seriously.
“I hope that things move on and this issue is left behind except for the part that reinforces for all on sundry; don’t take our biosecurity requirements as a joke.
“I’ve lived the life of trying to deal with biosecurity issues and I take them seriously.”
Ms Herd said in the video, “I am truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared – protecting Australia is important.”