> Foot-and-mouth disease spread worries Australian farmers, who want federal government to do more

Foot-and-mouth disease spread worries Australian farmers, who want federal government to do more

The federal government has promised it is doing enough to stop foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) entering the country, as some travellers question the screening processes at Australian airports.

Not all the government’s new control measures — announced last week — are in place.

Quarantine inspectors have greater powers to screen travellers in airport Biosecurity Response Zones but disinfectant mats — which kill the disease on people’s shoes — are still being tested.

“Testing will look at how the mats work, where they are best located and how travellers can use them,” the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said in a statement.

“Our biosecurity controls rely on a multi-layered approach to mitigate the risk of FMD, including passenger declaration, 100 per cent profiling of all passengers entering from Indonesia, real-time risk assessments, questioning and shoe cleaning.”

But travellers said some of the new screening requirements seemed haphazard.

“There’s a group of seven of us — family and my girlfriend — [and we] had to go through quarantine and we all just got let through, so she just got picked at random,” tourist Harrison Byrne, who returned to Melbourne from Bali, told the ABC.

“There’s not much point separating a family and a couple of them having to go line up for half an hour to go through quarantine and the rest are allowed to leave.”

‘It’d cripple livelihoods across the board’

a woman and a man standing in a paddock with cattle grazing in the background
Adelaide Hills cattle farmers Lyn and John Nitschke are concerned about the threat of foot-and-mouth disease.

Farmers said they remain worried by the outbreak, especially after the detection of viral fragments at Adelaide and Melbourne airports last week.

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