Photo caption: As a grazier, Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is very concerned about the threat that foot and mouth disease poses to Australia’s $80 billion livestock industry.
Concern over foot and mouth disease
Late last week, the Labor Government announced a $14 million package to help prevent foot and mouth disease from arriving in Australia, however this is not enough.
For more than a week now, the Liberals and Nationals have been calling for disinfectant foot baths or mats to be installed at airports for returning travellers to disinfect their shoes on arrival back into Australia. This is a common-sense measure that would help to mitigate the risk before a potentially exposed person steps foot onto Australian soil. It would only take one person to have traces of the disease on their shoe for it to enter Australia.
We’re also calling on the Government to fast-track the $20 million in Traceability Grants that we secured in the 2022 Budget, to provide on-farm assistance for measures like ear tags, a genetics gene bank and 3D X-ray scanners at airports for baggage.
It is imperative that we do everything we can to protect our $80 billion livestock industry and its genetic value from an outbreak of this highly infectious disease. If foot and mouth disease reaches our shores, the ramifications will be absolutely devastating, not only for our agricultural industry but for the entire country. It would cripple our livestock industry, destroy farm businesses, impact our trade markets, create food insecurity, and push up prices at the supermarket and beyond.
As someone who has personal farming interests and as a representative of an electorate which has a vibrant livestock industry, I am extremely concerned about this threat and will continue to lobby the Government to do what’s necessary to prevent what could be an economic disaster for our country.
New eligibility for fourth vaccine
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Australia’s top immunisation experts have updated their recommendations for winter fourth doses to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in coming months.
People aged 50 and over are recommended to have a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while people aged 30 to 49 can receive one if they choose. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has also recommended the interval for the fourth dose be reduced to three months after your initial booster (third dose) or a COVID-19 infection.
To book a booster or fourth dose, visit health.gov.au and use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder. If you need help making a COVID-19 vaccine booking, you can text ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 and someone from the National Coronavirus Helpline will call you to book your vaccination.
Disaster assistance for Warren
I’m pleased that flood-affected residents in Warren will now be able to access disaster payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child, following recent flooding.
Disaster assistance is also available for eligible people in the Warren Local Government Area to help with the flood clean-up. Assistance includes:
- Help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged (eligibility criteria apply)
- Support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
- Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations, and
- Freight subsidies for primary producers.
For more information on the assistance available, visit recovery.gov.au/nswflood