Amid outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia, many have called on the Australian Government to close off its borders to our northern neighbour.
Among those vocalising this demand are opposition MPs Barnaby Joyce and Karen Andrews. However, the Albanese government has implemented the “strongest ever” biosecurity measure to keep borders open, with the travel industry following suit.
Albanese argued against the positions laid out by Joyce and Andrews, saying “if we do that… then there of course will be a response”.
“What we’re trying to avoid is an impact, by definition, on our trade. And you don’t do that by just jumping to a position that the former government never ever implemented, [that] no Coalition government has implemented,” Albanese said.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) said that travel professionals are doing what they can to raise awareness of the necessary steps to keep foot-and-mouth disease out of Australia.
These steps include not bringing meat, dairy or animal products into Australia including freeze-dried or frozen products.
They also include making sure shoes, clothing and equipment used near animals or in rural areas are cleaned properly including soles, laces and external surfaces before boarding flights to Australia and declare them on arrival.
Declaring any travel in rural areas or near farm animals in the incoming passenger declaration is another suggested preventative measure.
“Australia’s travel agents and businesses and AFTA are proud to be doing what we can to help keep Australia safe from foot-and-mouth disease,” AFTA CEO Dean Long said.
“This is a significant threat that all Australians need to understand and take seriously.
“There are a number of simple steps that anyone coming into Australia and especially those coming from countries where foot-and-mouth exists including Bali and Indonesia can and must take to protect Australia’s livestock industries, and avoid a flow on effect that could cost Australia more than $80 billion if there were an outbreak here.”
AFTA has shared the Australian Government’s factsheet “Keep Australia foot-and-mouth disease free” with all members for clients travelling to and from Indonesia and is promoting on social media.
AFTA continues to work with the Department of Agriculture to finesse resources for travel professionals.
“Closing the highly important Indonesian travel corridor at this stage would be a very blunt measure with massive economic and cultural damage for the Australian marketplace and the Australian Travel sector when there are still prevention measures being fully deployed,” Long said.
“We obviously need to strike the right balance given everything that is at risk including for Australia’s cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, buffalo, deer and camels and our farmers while also keeping the critical travel artery between Australia and Indonesian including Bali open safely.”
Mandatory shoe cleaning at airports should have been implemented when the outbreak was identified in early May. Acid mats have also been rolled out to sanitise the shoes of return travellers.