Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022


Foot-and-Mouth Disease

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:32): I seek leave to make a brief statement before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development a question regarding the budget.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The Indonesian government reported at the end of May that more than 20,000 livestock had been infected by foot-and-mouth disease in 16 provinces. Foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious viral disease of livestock which, if present in Australia, could have catastrophic consequences for both animal health and trade. In the budget papers released on 2 June, biosecurity targets for 2022-23 included 'emerging high-level threats of Lumpy Skin Disease, African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza'.

My question to the minister is: given the current outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia, why wasn't this potential catastrophic disease included as a priority or target in her department's budget?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:33): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for her question. While there has been no official declaration of foot-and-mouth disease in Australia, as mentioned there have been outbreaks in Indonesia. Despite the fact that there is no official declaration in Australia, the Australian government's Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment is engaged with Indonesia on a constant basis. In the event that an exotic animal disease occurs, it is centrally coordinated through the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD).

The financial support required is requested through Treasury and relevant federal agencies, which is also how fruit fly has been managed over the last two years. I am advised that, should foot-and-mouth be detected in South Australia, the State Emergency Management Committee would also be activated. We continue to work closely with the federal government, our colleagues interstate and our local livestock industry, remaining alert to any developments.

It is appropriate that we take great stock of any risks in terms of foot-and-mouth disease, because it is indeed one of Australia's greatest livestock biosecurity risks. The April 2022 outbreak was detected in cattle in Indonesia. It has also been detected in East Java and Sumatra. It is indeed likely that it is now more widespread.

The Australian government has offered assistance to Indonesia to combat and contain the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. This comes on top of the assistance already being provided to respond to an outbreak of lumpy skin disease recently detected in Sumatra. It is likely that this outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia will take many years to eradicate. This biosecurity threat will remain a high risk to Australia for the near future.

I have mentioned in this place before that a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak would have devastating impacts on Australia's livestock industry, with severe economic losses due to the shutdown of Australia's export markets for live animals, meat and animal products. I have also mentioned, I think in the last question time, the estimated impacts in dollar terms of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

PIRSA will be working closely with our state peak industry bodies and nationally through working groups to contribute to both national and state preparedness activities. PIRSA's key areas of activity for preparedness will be enhanced surveillance to ensure early detection of disease and planning to ensure a rapid and effective response should detection of this disease occur in Australia. This will include a communication strategy to complement the national efforts being undertaken.

I am also advised that many of the preparedness activities being undertaken for a potential lumpy skin disease outbreak will address the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. An industry task force has been established to work on preparedness activities, and the resourcing required will be extensive. It is expected that foot-and-mouth disease preparedness and costings will be raised at national cabinet.