Australia New rules debated for travellers coming from Indonesia to Australia to stop foot-and-mouth disease
Cattle arrive for the Ekka as organisers ramp up biosecurity measures against foot-and-mouth disease
It's been a long wait for the return of cattle to the Ekka after two years of COVID-19 cancellations. But this year another virus is looming, and the show's organisers are taking no chances.Cattle began arriving yesterday for the stud beef competition, the largest annual showing of stud beef in the southern hemisphere.
Officials are reviewing whether to impose a total ban on food products being brought fromby travellers due to growing concerns over foot-and-mouth disease.
Ainquiry into Australia's response to the outbreak in Indonesia was told a total ban was possible should the situation worsen.
Travellers are already banned from bringing food products such as meat, while any other food items must be declared.
Agriculture department secretary Andrew Metcalfe told the inquiry on Wednesday the situation with the disease was constantly evolving.
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The drills take place annually, but this year’s are the largest ever amid rising tensions with China in the region.The annual military training, known as Garuda Shield, has been taking place since 2009. But this year sees the participation of several other countries, including Australia and Japan, making it the largest ever.
'There have been significant actions taken in relation to food being imported from Indonesia since the outbreak occurred, and many more categories of food unable to be imported,' he said.
'We are constantly reviewing the risk factors associated with any food imports and making changes accordingly.'
The impact on animal-based export products would be significant should foot-and-mouth disease be detected, the inquiry was told.
While viral fragments of the disease have previously been found in pork products at a Melbourne retailer, Australia remains free of the disease with no live virus being found.
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Jakarta’s temporary blocking of websites highlights tension between desire to rein in internet and grow digital economy.Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has listed digital infrastructure as a priority under his Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap aimed at lifting his country into the ranks of the world’s top 10 economies.
The comments come after the government in July announced a $14 million biosecurity package to bolster frontline measures, including funding for 18 new biosecurity officers at airports and mail centres.
But the new officers won't be deployed until the end of September, the inquiry was told, with 45 contractors hired to fill the gaps until recruitment is complete.
Detector dogs have also been put in place at all airports with incoming flights from Indonesia, except for Adelaide where they would be stationed by the end of August, the inquiry was told.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the beef industry had to be protected from the threat of the disease.
'When it comes to foot-and-mouth disease, clearly we have had to act decisively as a new government to do what we can to minimise the risk,' he told reporters in Rockhampton.
Foot and mouth outbreak risk 'diminishing'
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Australia is set to supply Indonesia with one million doses of vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease, set to arrive later in August.
Mr Metcalfe also told the hearing there were no discussions with other departments about the possibility of closing the border with Indonesia due to the threat of the disease.
The agriculture department said it was first made aware of advice about foot-and-mouth disease on May 6.
Mr Metcalfe said former agriculture minister David Littleproud did not ask the department to order more vaccines or foot mats to prevent the disease in Australia, following the advice being received.
However, the advice was received during the caretaker period before the federal election.
Mr Metcalfe said both Mr Littleproud and his then-opposition counterpart remained fully briefed at the time.
The risk of the highly contagious disease entering Australia in the next five years has been increased to 11.6 per cent after it spread to Bali.
The inquiry also examined the risk of varroa mites on Australia's bee population, with infestations at more than 80 premises in NSW.
As of Tuesday, there have been no new red zones or outbreak areas, with all 83 infested premises being near the original outbreak near Newcastle.
It's estimated 4,600 hives have been euthanised as a result of the varroa mite infestation.
Agriculture officials said while there have been multiple theories as to how the infestation originated, investigations were still ongoing into the exact cause.
Press freedom is under attack in Indonesia .
With several courtroom battles ongoing, fates of countless journalists are hanging on the balance.The country is at a turning point following its transition at the end of the 20th century from military dictatorship to democracy.