Anthony Albanese reiterated that the Indonesian border will remain open

Anthony Albanese stands strong in his refusal to close the border between Australia and Indonesia, despite growing concerns about foot-and-mouth disease.

With Indonesian authorities seeming to lose control of the virus as it spreads to 22 provinces, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has granted sweeping biosecurity powers to Australian border forces at airports to keep the disease out of the country.

The prime minister said the measures were the “strongest action the Australian government has ever taken” to deal with the outbreak of the deadly virus, which could wipe out $80 billion from the Australian livestock industry.

Despite calls from opposition leader Peter Dutton, and the Nationals, to close the border to the popular holiday destination, Albanese said such a move is not yet necessary.

The prime minister said Mr Watt was doing “everything we could to prevent this disease from coming to Australia which of course would have a severe impact on our economy”.

“What we’re trying to avoid is by definition affecting our trade. You don’t do that by just jumping into a position that the previous government never did,” he told Sky News Sunday morning.

“No coalition government has implemented the strong measures we have announced and put it through this current issue as it has been brought up.”

camera iconFederal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has issued strict border security measures for Australian border forces. NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall attributed to him: news corp australia

Albanese said the measures introduced had the support of the National Farmers’ Federation as well as other agricultural organizations.

“I thank them for the cooperation, advice and engagement they provide with the government,” he said, describing the issue as “extremely critical.”

Watt summoned authorities on Friday to allow border force officials to order travelers to take off their shoes or walk over sewage mats when returning from hot spots like Bali.

“It is important to note that Australia is free of FMD and that our products are still available to the world,” said Mr. Albanese.

“It is important that we try to do everything we can to maintain this position.”

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