NSW Agriculture Minister calls for all travellers returning from Bali to have bags checked

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders is calling for all travellers returning from Bali to have their bags inspected as efforts ramp up to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth-disease.

The disease affects pigs, cattle, goats and sheep.

It was detected in Indonesia in May and spread to Bali earlier this month, prompting fears a tourist could carry the disease into Australia on clothing or footwear.

The federal government has invoked new biosecurity powers at Australian airports and travellers returning from Indonesia need to use foot mats or take other directions regarding biosecurity. 

Mr Saunders said extra measures were needed at a national level, including inspection of all bags arriving from hot spot areas including Bali.

A person in black leather shoes walks over a wet black mat.
Citric acid foot mats have been installed at Perth Airport. (Supplied: Perth Airport)

“We need to very quickly get the rest of the mats rolled out in Indonesian and Australian airports,” he said.

Mr Saunders said he had spoken to the federal government about the issue several times.

“I think that’s the simplest, best way of making sure we have the best chance of keeping it out and keeping people aware of how important this is.

“Without that, we are hearing stories every day of people cruising through customs, even after declaring things, and not having bags checked — that’s simply not good enough.”

An unidentified man carries a toddler and a backpack walking through the Brisbane Airport.
There are calls for all travellers returning from Indonesia to have their bags checked.(ABC News: Lucas Hill)

No call for travel bans yet

Mr Saunders did however fall short of echoing Federal Cowper MP Pat Conaghan’s calls to implement a 90-day ban on non-essential travel to and from Indonesia.

He said it was something which could be considered, but not yet implemented.

Farm biosecurity plans

Three politicians place a foot into separate foot baths at a dairy farm.
Oxley MP Melinda Pavey, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders use a foot bath at a dairy farm.(ABC Mid North Coast: Alexandra Jones)

Mr Saunders today visited a dairy farm at Bowraville on the NSW Mid North Coast where he said individual farmers could take action such as displaying signs from Local Land Services at their front gate.

“It’s a pretty simple message, it’s about contacting the owner before you enter the property,” he said.

A farmer and politicians stand on a farm holding biosecurity warning signs.
A farm at Bowraville is displaying biosecurity signs from Local Land Services.(ABC Mid North Coast: Alexandra Jones)

Bowraville farm owner John Usher said the beef industry would be absolutely devastated if the disease was detected in Australia and cattle movements were stopped.

“We would at least be able to continue milking, but with challenges,” he said.

“The general challenges the environment and everything else has thrown at us, this is just another one.

Expert staff from Local Land Services will connect with farmers through a series of targeted workshops and visits to saleyards and field days to help farmers identify and report the early signs of both foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.

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