Member for Barker Tony Pasin has expressed concern over the Federal Labor Government’s response to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) confirmed in Bali on Tuesday.
“Every Australian should be seriously concerned about the danger knocking on our front door,” Mr Pasin said.
“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would send shock waves through our economy and damage our international reputation for clean, green food and fibre.”
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) modelling projects a FMD outbreak in Australia would have an estimated direct economic impact of around $80 billion.
The highly contagious virus can be carried in live animals as well as in meat, dairy products, soil, vehicles and equipment. It can also be carried on people’s clothing and in particular on their footwear.
Mr Pasin said pre-pandemic, 1.23 million Australians travelled to Bali in 2019 and a resumption in this level travel to Bali posed a serious threat to FMD entering Australia through Aussie travellers escaping the winter.
“July school holidays and a relaxation of travel restriction means returning Aussie holiday makers pose a huge risk to our livestock industry and every regional economy in the country,” Mr Pasin said.
“This is a significant threat and should be taken very seriously.”
On Wednesday, Labor Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt announced increased biosecurity measures in response to the Bali FMD outbreak including biosecurity detector dogs, additional signage and flyers at major airports, as well as social media campaigns informing travellers of FMD risk and precautions, increasing biosecurity staff.
“Labor’s new protocols to respond to the threat of FMD fail to go far enough. Sniffer dogs do not directly detect FMD on footwear and we cannot rely on travellers voluntary doing the right thing,” Mr Pasin said.
“I fear Labor is underestimating the bio security risk that this situation presents. At a very minimum all returning travellers from Indonesia including Bali should be required to treat their footwear if they insist on bringing them home.”
“Labor’s soft approach to this FMD outbreak runs the very real risk of doing the same irrevocable harm to Australia’s livestock industries that the Gillard Government did in banning the live export trade overnight in 2011,” said Mr Pasin.
Indonesia authorities confirmed 63 cases of FMD in livestock in Bali on Tuesday.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus disease of animals. It is one of the most serious livestock diseases. It affects cloven-hoofed animals (those with divided hoofs), including cattle, buffalo, camels, sheep, goats, deer and pigs. It is found in many parts of the world, and has been reported in countries in Africa, the Middles East, Asia and South America.
While it can cause serious production losses the most significant impact of the disease occurs because of its effect on trade in livestock and livestock products. Countries without the disease, which include many of Australia’s major trading partners do not import from, or severely restrict imports from FMD-infected countries.
FMD can be carried on live animals as well as in meat, dairy products, soil, vehicles and equipment. Importantly, it can also be carried on people’s clothing and footwear.