Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is calling on the Labor Government to take further action to protect Australia’s livestock industry from an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
Mr Coulton has written to the Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, backing industry and constituent calls for increased biosecurity measures to be introduced to reduce the risk of the disease reaching Australia.
“It’s been over a week since I’ve written to Minister Watt, and I’m yet to receive a response,” Mr Coulton said.
“Meanwhile, I’m continuing to be contacted by constituents from across the Parkes electorate with real and valid concerns about the significant threat of foot and mouth disease.
“Right on our doorstep, the outbreak in Bali is causing serious apprehension for our farmers who fear the current measures are not enough to protect our $80 billion livestock industry.
“I’m hearing that more can be done to ramp up the public awareness campaign for travellers returning from areas which have a foot and mouth disease outbreak.
“Sanitising the footwear of all travellers returning from Indonesia is a simple 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.
“Other practical measures include bringing forward the installation of 3D X-ray machines, fast-tracking the $20 million traceability program for ear tags and the $10 million for the National Livestock Genebank – all measures that the Liberals and Nationals funded in the 2022 Budget.
“We only get one chance at this and we have to get it right.
“We can’t afford to risk this highly infectious disease reaching our shores – if it does, 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.
“I urge the Labor Government to do what’s necessary to protect our farmers and the livestock industry which is vital to regions like the Parkes electorate.”