Anthony Albanese has declared that the measures taken by the federal government to try to prevent the devastating foot-and-mouth disease from infecting Australian livestock are “the strongest ever”.
The prime minister defended the government’s position to keep the border with Indonesia open while the country battles the outbreak.
“This is the most powerful measure that an Australian government has ever taken in terms of biosecurity when it comes to foot and mouth disease,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
“It is important to note that Australia is free of FMD and that our products are still available to the world.”
Albanese said the country’s agricultural bodies have supported his government in not banning flights, which would have a “severe” impact on the economy and trade.
“Don’t do it just by jumping to a position that the previous government never applied,” he said.
“No coalition government has implemented those strong measures that we have announced and put it through this current issue where it has been brought up.”
Travelers will be instructed to comply with biosecurity measures, including taking off their shoes or walking over sewage mats, and will be questioned by officers.
It is the first time that the powers of the Biosecurity Act have been used in Australia.
The coalition called for the border to be closed and criticized the speed with which the government handled.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on Friday authorized the creation of biosecurity response zones across international airports where travelers arriving in Australia can be screened more closely.
Senator Watt also announced a $14 million package to help reduce the risk of the disease spreading from Bali.
This disease is highly contagious and affects cattle, sheep, goats, camels, deer, and pigs.
The virus is transmitted by live animals and can be found in meat, dairy products, soil, bones, untreated leather, and vehicles and equipment used with farm animals.