Dutton calls for closed borders as Indonesia outbreak rages

Australia should close its border to Indonesia until the country’s foot and mouth disease crisis is resolved, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says.

The federal government continues to resist a closure, a position backed by the National Farmers Federation.

Trade concerns and strict biosecurity measures have been cited as reasons to not block Australia-Indonesia exchanges.

Australia’s agriculture industry would be endangered by a foot and mouth outbreak. (Jason South)

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles defended the government’s security measures after they were criticised by Nationals leader David Littleproud.

“It’s a really significant response,” Marles told Today.

“We have got more biosecurity officers on the job … we’re looking putting in place the biosecurity zones around a number of our airports.”

Should Australia close the border to Indonesia to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease?

Marles also said foot sanitation mats were being rolled out at airports for travellers returning from Indonesia.

“If they are not in place in every airport right now, it’s on its way,” he said.

“But this is a critical step that we are taking to make sure that the country is safe.”

The government last week pointed out that foot in mouth outbreaks existed in other countries around the world and had done for some years, without calls for border closures or a cessation of trade.

But speaking to 2GB this morning, Dutton said he believed the borders should be closed.

There are calls for the border to Indonesia to be closed. (Nicole McGuire)

“But I think the prime minister needs to explain why that has not happened,” he said.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce also weighed in, blasting the government’s stance as “negligent incompetence”.

“If the risk is there, you must stop it. You must close the borders. The alternative is that there is no alternative,” he told 2GB.

“People will think this is just about farmers – it’s not, it is about you and your cost of living.”

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A foot and mouth outbreak in Australia could lead to devastating consequences, including an $80 billion hit to the economy as livestock industries and primary produce exports shut down on a massive scale.

So far, Australia remains free of the disease despite viral fragments being detected in several subsequently-seized meat products from Indonesia and China.

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