The WA opposition claims that deploying police and firefighters to deal with possible foot-and-mouth epidemics will put further on already overburdened emergency services. The McGowan government is now working on a plan to be ready for potential outbreaks of the cattle-affecting diseases lumpy skin disease and foot-and-mouth disease with a team of 70 individuals. Farmers have warned that if the illnesses enter WA, it will have a significant impact on the industry, thus part of the strategy calls for the urgent deployment of more than 700 workers as part of the initial reaction. If we have to restrict the borders to interstate cattle to enforce livestock quarantine zones, we may need some emergency services and police people to help with the reaction, agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan said.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s workforce would be the plan’s mainstay, according to the state government. However, the state opposition said that according to their interpretation of the strategy, the task force’s staff would be made up primarily of members of the emergency services. Colin de Grussa, the shadow minister for agriculture and food, has criticised the idea for adding to the strain already placed on already overburdened ministries. “Those resources would surely be drawn from other government departments, or elsewhere,” he asserted, without placing additional strain on the already overburdened emergency services. In order to deal with record ambulance ramping, firefighters and police officers were previously dispatched to support St John WA ambulance services earlier this year.
In response to claims of a negative workplace culture from the police union, resignations from WA Police have also increased significantly. Yesterday, Mr. de Grussa was briefed on the Department’s strategy to combat FMD, but he criticised the state government for failing to make its plans known to the general public. “You would believe that there is experience inside government to be able to convey what is occurring with foot-and-mouth disease,” he added. “We’ve seen the Premier practically every day over the past two years of COVID.” The concerns of FMD spreading to the state are being addressed, according to Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
A 72-hour livestock lockdown would probably be implemented under a nationwide agreement, she said, to allow for contact tracing and the quarantining of affected homes. While we are doing everything we can to stop the disease from spreading, if it does, we will use every available resource to stop it before it spreads. According to the head of the opposition, Mia Davies, Ms. MacTiernan’s support in the agricultural industry has waned. The agriculture sector is doubting the minister of agriculture’s dedication and comprehension of the gravity of the FMD problem for our state and country, she said.
“We believe that with regards to agriculture, it’s time for a new pair of eyes. In a time of, very obviously, a crisis, the sector “no longer has trust in her ability to understand and also provide what they need.” Despite criticism from the public when Ms. MacTiernan downplayed concerns about the effects of FMD and said it will lower the price of meat and dairy, Premier Mark McGowan has defended her as a capable minister. She has apologised for some of her statements, according to Mr. McGowan. “Perhaps people need to get past that and realise that we have a variety of strategies in place to combat foot-and-mouth disease. She puts in a lot of effort, is devoted to the agriculture sector, and regional communities across the state.”