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Biosecurity fears sparks Indonesia border call

There are calls to close the nation’s border to Indonesia amid warnings a single case of foot and mouth disease could shut down the export industry, with viral fragments now being detected in meat products in Australia.

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Opposition MPs Barnaby Joyce and Karen Andrews called on the government to consider shutting the border to one of the nation’s biggest trading partners.

“Let’s not run the risk of foot and mouth disease coming into Australia,” Andrews said on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on Wednesday announced further biosecurity measures after viral fragments of the disease and African swine fever were detected in pork products at a Melbourne retailer.

A beef product being carried by a traveller was also recently seized at an Australian airport and later tested positive for viral fragments of foot and mouth disease.

While Australia remains free of the livestock disease, it has recently been detected in popular tourist destination Bali.

Watt is urging travellers to take responsibility, clean their shoes and declare all meat products when arriving in Australia.

Sanitation mats are being deployed at international airports for travellers from Indonesia to walk over in an effort to stop the disease entering Australia on their shoes.

Watt said an immediate three-day standstill on livestock movements would be implemented if the disease were to reach Australia.

“There is a comprehensive plan that’s been developed over a number of years between federal and state governments about how we manage outbreaks … (including) movement controls,” he said.

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A compensation scheme for farmers would also be put in place.

But Watt felt “very confident that Australia’s world-leading biosecurity system stands us in very good stead to resist this outbreak arriving”.

Joyce said travellers from Indonesia should throw their shoes away before boarding a plane.

“You might say that’s outrageous,” he said.

“I tell you what will be outrageous is when you go to pay for your shopping bill and instead of the big shop being $300 or $400, its six, seven or eight hundred dollars.”

Joyce also called for the Australian government to send agriculture students to Bali to carry out a mass vaccination campaign or buy its 2000-head cattle herd with public money and destroy them.

A proposal by the NSW government to develop a national, industry-led mandatory sheep and goat electronic identification system was discussed.

It would allow livestock to be individually traced in the event of an outbreak.

-with AAP

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