The Federal Government’s refusal to implement tough new biosecurity measures to prevent foot-and-mouth disease from crossing Australian borders risks decimating Victorian agriculture.
Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is in Jakarta today to meet with authorities regarding the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia.
But Nationals leader and shadow agriculture minister Peter Walsh questioned the minister’s priorities, with federal labor still refusing to mandate the sterilization of the shoes of all people arriving from Indonesia.
“FMD is easy to transmit, but will be impossible to control if it crosses our borders, so we must take all necessary steps to prevent it from reaching Australian farms,” said Mr Walsh.
“Minister Watt says he will ‘implement all practical measures that will make a difference’, but continues to offer weak excuses against industry calls for sterilization of footbaths for all comers.
“Instead, the Labor Party is focusing its efforts on airport advertising. But that is cold consolation for Victorian farmers who face an economic hit of up to $6 billion if there is even a small, contained outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
“Enhanced biosecurity measures at airports that ensure every traveler is stopped, questioned and required to sterilize or dispose of footwear that may carry the disease is the only option to keep our borders secure.”
Mr Walsh wrote to the Federal Minister last week, condemning Labor’s slow action and demanding an immediate step up in biosecurity at all Australian ports of entry.
“With thousands of Australians traveling to Indonesia at the moment, more safeguards need to be put in place,” Mr Walsh said.
“Victorian and Australian growers cannot afford the comprehensive trade restrictions and strict isolation protocols that would be required in the event of an outbreak.