The Albanese Labor Government must urgently implement stronger measures to protect Australia against the catastrophic threat of foot and mouth disease (FMD) according to The Nationals Leader and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, the Hon David Littleproud MP.
Mr Littleproud accused the Labor Government of being indecisive in its approach to the introduction of critical biosecurity protections, such as disinfectant footbaths at airports.
“Labor Minister Murray Watt ruled out the Opposition’s call for footbaths at airports earlier last week but then on Friday said he would now consider disinfectant foot mats,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The Minister should implement both and make the decision today, given hundreds of travellers are returning daily from Indonesia.
“Along with industry experts, I have been calling for urgent stronger measures such as footbaths because detector dogs won’t pick FMD up on people’s boots, but the Minister has dithered for days ‘seeking departmental advice.”
Mr Littleproud outlined three additional actions the Labor Government should take right now to strengthen the nation’s biosecurity against FMD.
“Firstly, disinfectant footbaths must be introduced immediately at airports to properly treat potentially exposed passengers, regardless of the inconvenience,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Secondly, the Minister needs to pick the phone up to his Indonesian counterpart and ask if there is greater assistance that we can provide to them to isolate and eradicate FMD in Indonesia on top of what already has been provided.
“Thirdly, fast track the $20 million in Traceability Grants the Liberal and Nationals secured in the 2022 Budget to provide on farm assistance for measures like ear tags, a genetics gene bank and even looking at 3D Xray scanners at airports for baggage which was being established under the Coalition.
“These grants help to give us a better chance to isolate an outbreak, while the gene bank would rebuild a herd quicker and cheaper. The funds are in the Budget and ready to roll out now,” Mr Littleproud added.
Mr Littleproud said Australian farmers were becoming nervous the new Labor Government’s lack of understanding of agriculture was leading to indecision and putting their livelihoods at risk.