• Loddon Herald

Biosecurity is crucial

Australian biosecurity efforts must be strengthened following confirmation this week that foot and mouth disease (FMD) has been detected in cows in Indonesia, said Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh.

In a statement, Mr Walsh said

With thousands of Australians travelling to the tropical island nation to escape the winter, iron-clad safeguards must be put in place to protect the health of livestock, our farmers’ livelihoods and the economic prosperity of our $80 billion agriculture sector.

The Victorian Liberals and Nationals are calling on the Federal Government to immediately bolster biosecurity inspections of travellers arriving from anywhere in Indonesia.

Comprehensive biosecurity checks at the airport must see every single arrival questioned on their overseas travel and that footwear, in particular, is sterilised or destroyed to protect our borders from a catastrophic incursion of FMD.

These checks must come in addition to an increase in border security personnel at the arrivals gate and the signed declaration asking if people have been in contact with animals, animal products or rural areas in their time outside of Australia.

I will be writing to incoming Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt for a guarantee the Commonwealth will better protect Australian, and Victorian, farmers and livestock against FMD as a priority.

Australia has been free of FMD since 1872, due to our strict quarantine and biosecurity protocols.

The CSIRO predicts “a multi-state FMD outbreak in Australia could cost the Australian economy up to $50 billion over 10 years, primarily due to trade restrictions”. But even a “small, contained” outbreak in Victoria would see our economy take a more than $5-6 billion hit.

FMD is highly contagious among livestock. Outbreaks have the potential to decimate the industry due to the export market closures, production disruption and significant flow-on social impacts and economic losses for all regional businesses involved in agriculture.

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