The Victorian Nationals have called out the federal government’s refusal to implement strict new biosecurity measures to stop foot and mouth disease breaching Australia’s borders and decimating Victorian agriculture.
Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said Labor’s federal Minister for Agriculture had said the government would implement any practical measures that would make a difference, but had refused to enforce sterilisation of footwear of all people arriving from Indonesia.
Ms Kealy said foot and mouth posed a huge risk to agriculture, including many producers in the Lowan electorate, and immediate action was needed.
“Foot and mouth disease is easy to transmit and will be impossible to combat if it breaches our borders, which is why we must take every action now to prevent it reaching Australian farms,” she said.
“Labor is focussing its efforts on advertising at the airport, but this is cold comfort to Victorian farmers who face an economic hit up to $6 billion if there’s even a small, contained outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
“We support the agricultural industry’s calls for bolstered biosecurity measures at airports that ensure every single traveller is stopped, questioned and required to sterilise or get rid of footwear that might be carrying the disease. It is the only option to keep our borders safe.”
Victorian Nationals leader and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh wrote to the federal Agriculture Minister last week, condemning Labor’s slow action and demanding an immediate boost to biosecurity at all of Australia’s ports of entry.h
Ms Kealy said with thousands of Australians travelling to Indonesia at the moment, more safeguards must be put in place.
“Victorian and Australian producers can’t afford the comprehensive trade restrictions and strict isolation protocols that would be required if an outbreak occurred,” she said.
“Farmers and the agriculture industry deserve confidence that all levels of government are prepared to take all appropriate action required to protect producers, livestock, and our economic future.”