15 Jul TRAVEL BAN MAY BE A NECESSITY AS BIOSECURITY RISKS GROW
Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has joined calls for the Federal Government to consider a non-essential travel ban between Australia and Indonesia, in a bid to mitigate growing biosecurity risks that could wipe out the nation’s livestock industries.
The Australia livestock sector remains on high alert as Indonesia’s (including Bali’s) local Foot and Mouth (FMD) and Lumpy Skin (LSD) disease outbreaks worsen.
At present, more than 300,000 animals across Indonesia have been infected with FMD while LSD cases also continue to rise.
Mr Katter said while he understood a ban would inconvenience some tourists intent on having a good time, the stakes were too high.
“If either disease gets in, our red meat industries are finished,” he said.
“This will send our farmers across the livestock and dairy industries to the wall and place unbearable pressure on our local food supply chains and local, regional and national economies.
“Many rural communities will never recover if the worst-case scenario happens.”
Mr Katter said while an Indonesian travel ban would target the spread of FMD, the risks posed by LSD must not be forgotten.
“The public is treating LSD as a lesser disease because it only affects cattle, as opposed to all hoofed animals which are susceptible to FMD,” he said.
“But this doesn’t tell the full story – while we can control the spread of FMD through border security, we cannot do the same for LSD.
“LSD is primarily spread through insects, and obviously we cannot control the spread of insects across the oceans between our two continents.
“The only way we can mitigate this risk is to ensure Indonesia gets on top of its problems – we need to radically increase our support to their governments and provide them every tool possible.
“These efforts are vital and would be done in the name of protecting Australia’s own national interests.”
Mr Katter said more decisive and swifter action was needed on the issue, a sentiment echoed by Gulf country cattleman Alister McClymont.
Speaking in Julia Creek yesterday, Mr McClymont said the risk to Australia’s beef industry was huge.
“It’s a major problem, the cattle market has already been affected and has dropped already,” he said.
“If there is any sort of an outbreak and we can’t send our cattle south to the feedlots, given there is virtually no live export at the moment, it’ll be a major problem for us.
“From what I’ve heard, (the government) are not doing a terrible lot – foot baths for people coming from Bali aren’t enough, they’ve got to be held accountable.
“We can’t take the risk, we’re better off isolating (the diseases) over there than fighting it once it gets here.
“It’s going to create a huge problem here for us if it does get here.”
Mr Katter said his office had received reports from concerned travellers who, having recently returned from Bali, remarked on the lack of biosecurity measures in place on arrival into Australia.
“(There was) only one sign at the airport – blink and you’d miss it – and if it wasn’t for Facebook/Instagram posts we would not have known anything about it,” the traveller reported.
“On arrival to Aus(tralia), we listened twice to a pre-recording about bringing in meat/cheese products, (but) nothing about shoes.
“And nil presence at Customs checking for dirty boots, just the standard staff checking declaration cards.”