July 13, 2022
The South Burnett Regional Council will write to the Federal Government to ask it to temporarily suspend all travel to and from countries affected by foot and mouth disease (FMD).
The Council also voted to build biosecurity warnings about FMD on all entry and exit routes in the region.
The two decisions were made at the Liveability Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday.
Cr Scott Henschen said the highly contagious disease was now in Bali, one of the most popular overseas tourist destinations for Australians.
There has been a push to install “foot dips” at airports for passengers returning from Bali to pass through to prevent the virus from being carried to Australia in their shoes.
But Cr Henschen said the FMD virus can also be carried by travelers in their clothing and other personal belongings.
Australia is currently one of only a handful of disease -free countries.
Cr Henschen said FMD has affected pigs as well as cattle, and warned that with farming that makes up approximately 71 percent of the region’s economy, any outbreak could quickly bring South Burnett to its knees.
He said the FMD would not only be a disaster for cattle producers in the region – who will be forced to take down their herds – but also consumers who have to deal with the acute shortage of beef products and pork that will affect supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.
Cr Henchen said he understood that Barcaldine and Western Downs Regional Councils had moved recently to raise awareness about the risk of FMD in their regions, and urged South Burnett to do the same.
Mayor Brett Otto suggested that the Council should also try to organize a meeting with representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the offices of the Ministers of State and Federal Agriculture to discuss prevention strategies.
He also suggested holding a meeting in conjunction with BIEDO for local livestock producers.
The councilors accepted all the proposals unanimously.
The South Burnett Regional Council vote coincided with a call by Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, to suspend flights from Bali.
He said the outbreak of FMD in Australia would trigger a crisis of “biblical proportion”, which would cost the country billions of dollars in management and extermination, not to mention the destruction of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs in time when food security is critical. issues in the world.
The identification of FMD in Australia will have a major impact on Australia’s ability to export high-value products to premium markets and will mean devastating financial harm to the agricultural industry and adding value.
Senator McDonald said it was not clear how quickly and adequately the Federal Government and industry responded to the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Bali, and believed the suspension of flights to Bali should be investigated.
“We have seen a rapid closure of borders with COVID, and I believe similar measures should be discussed for foot-and-mouth, and if not flight suspensions, then quarantine for returning passengers, ”he said.
“Some people will say this is an overreaction and will affect Indonesia’s economy, but the devastation of a foot-and-mouth outbreak in Australia is rampant not only among producers but among consumers and taxpayers as well. It’s really complex. how bad it is so it is very important that we do not allow FMD in Australia.
“Australian tourists in Bali are walking on cow dung and carrying dirty shoes and suitcase tires home but whoever flew back last week could have brought the disease to Australia,” he said.
“An emergency declaration once Indonesian authorities raise the alarm is an appropriate response because infected animals can be carriers for two weeks before showing symptoms.
“More sniffer dogs will not find disease in people’s shoes.
“It is frustrating that the introduction of physical measures such as flyers and warning announcements on outbound and incoming flights for people not to bring dirty things back to Australia took four days to introduce because it was told us that biosecurity implementation measures are ‘war-played’ in advance.
“After talking to meat industry figures and hearing how concerned they are, I believe the Federal Government should immediately canvas the suspension of flights to Bali and consider shipping biosecurity and veterinary staff in Bali to administer vaccinations, help Indonesian authorities address the outbreak and ensure the disease occurs. do not enter Australia. “
On Tuesday, Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said he would speak face to face with his Indonesian counterparts in Jakarta this week.
Minister Watt will be accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, including Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp, along with National Farmers ’Federation President Fiona Simson.
Minister Watt said the two -day visit was the next step in the Federal Government’s efforts to combat FMD, building on new biosecurity measures introduced that include additional screening of travelers, luggage and mail, dogs biosecurity detectors, more information for travelers and signs at airports.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese offered Indonesian vaccines and technical expertise to help it address FMD during his visit last month.