Article by: Hari Yellina
All packages coming from China and Indonesia are being checked to look for potential biosecurity hazards including foot-and-mouth disease. Australian biosecurity officials routinely scan a percentage of all incoming mail with x-ray equipment and detector dogs, but as of this month, all incoming packages from China and Indonesia must be checked. Pigs, cattle, goats, and sheep are all affected by foot-and-mouth disease. Fears that a visitor could bring the illness into Australia on their clothing or footwear were raised after it was first discovered in Indonesia in May and then moved on to Bali earlier this month.
Murray Watt, the federal agriculture minister, stated that there was a higher chance of livestock diseases like foot-and-mouth being transmitted when foreign meat or animal products were illegally imported through freight and mail services. Since China and Indonesia are both clearly high-risk countries for foot-and-mouth disease, we are already checking every single mail package that arrives from both nations, according to Mr. Watt. This implies that we are now picking up a wider variety of meat products that are arriving via mail. He claimed that if pigs were fed illegally imported animal products, the sickness might spread. Swill, or leftover food, cannot be given to pigs in Australia.
Since foot-and-mouth illness was discovered in Bali earlier this month, additional biosecurity regulations have been published. According to Mr. Watt, travellers are following them. He said that biosecurity agents checked 3,700 people aboard a flight from Indonesia to Melbourne on Saturday. It was encouraging to note that fewer persons than the previous week had brought in things that were considered to pose a danger for foot-and-mouth disease. “In comparison to the prior week, a significant decrease had also been seen in the number of individuals with clearly contaminated shoes that required cleaning. I can infer from that that our passengers are paying attention to our messaging.” All international airports now have new citric acid foot mats available, and for the first time, biosecurity authorities have the authority to order travellers to use the mats and follow other biosecurity instructions. Numerous nations throughout the world have an endemic foot-and-mouth disease, but Australia has been rid of it for more than a century.
Peter Dutton, the leader of the opposition, demanded that Australia seal its border with Indonesia because he believed the administration wasn’t doing enough to stop the disease from spreading. Mr. Dutton said to 2GB, “I think we should close the border, and the Prime Minister needs to explain why that hasn’t happened.” The Australian Meat Industry Council, the National Farmers’ Federation, and the Cattle Council of Australia disagree, arguing that the border should not be closed. According to Fiona Simson, head of the National Farmers’ Federation, “it would put at danger a commerce that is quite vital.” The value of Australia’s trade with Indonesia is $17 billion annually, and Jakarta is a significant market for Australian commodities and live cattle.
The opposition’s suggestions for a border closure, according to Mr. Watt, are risky. Some foreign clients have already expressed worry to us about certain reports and what they have heard opposition members say, according to Mr. Watt. The Australian government has been informed by the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Analysis that there is an 11.6% chance that Australia would experience an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease over the next five years. In the same time frame, there was a 21% chance of an African swine flu pandemic and a 28% chance of an outbreak of lumpy skin disease, according to the report.