While Zoos Victoria have completely closed parts of their zoos due to foot-and-mouth disease concerns, the Andrews Labor Government is pushing ahead with permitting camping on farms.
Local Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said this was a perfect example of why the State Government is not taking the agricultural sector’s biosecurity concerns seriously enough.
“Zoos Victoria has realised the potential threat, recently announcing it will be closing public pathways to some animal enclosures to lower the risk of animals coming into contact with ‘soil that could have potentially been brought in from outside the zoo grounds’,” Mr Bull said.
“But here we have the State Government opening up and actively encouraging people to camp on riversides under grazing licence, that contain large numbers of sheep and cattle with no checks and balances.
“It has taken so long for any real protections to be put in place by both federal and state governments and there is more that can be done.
“This is a disease that will have a devastating impact on livestock and livelihoods as well as proving damaging to our local economy, which is already under enormous pressure.
“Quite simply, we should be doing absolutely everything we can as a precaution. The risk is very real, but it appears the penny is not dropping with this government.
“Should we have an outbreak, God forbid, instant action is required and all infected stock will need to be quarantined at local sale yards.
“We need the State to work with local government to ensure we have the required treatment measures (like foot washes installed) when needed, as the yards will act as quarantining stations.
“I have no confidence this work is being carried out with the urgency required and our new Agriculture Minister needs to get on top of this very quickly, and I have written to her suggesting this is both urgent and critical,” Mr Bull said.