With African swine fever confirmed less than 700 kilometres from Australia’s northern border Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is calling for heightened vigilance to keep the disease out.
“One quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year from African swine fever which kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and there’s no vaccine and no cure,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Our government is stepping up our border intervention to make sure we keep it out, not just to protect our 2700 pork producers but also to protect Australia’s global reputation as a supplier of clean, green, safe and nutritious food.
“In increasingly competitive markets our freedom from diseases like African swine fever is central to our trade proposition across all our agricultural products and we need to protect that.
“We’re boosting our biosecurity effort at international airports to target those flights from countries affected by African swine fever and in coming weeks we will be undertaking spot checks of each and every person arriving on selected flights.
“I’ve asked my department to employ detector dog capabilities in Darwin given the heightened risk direct flights from Timor Leste could pose.
“We’re also working with airlines in countries that have African swine fever to make sure passengers understand our requirements and have every opportunity to comply.
“Earlier this year we implemented changes to immigration legislation so that international visitors who bring in undeclared high risk items, like pork from African swine fever affected countries, can be sent back home. They can be refused entry to Australia and have their visas cancelled for up to three years.
“Since we increased border checks we’ve been seizing 100 kilograms week in illegal pork products. Between 5 November 2018 and 31 August 2019 over 27 tonnes of pork were intercepted on air travellers entering Australia.
“We need every Australian and all our visitors to play their part and leave pork products overseas.”