16 April, 2021

Australia's clean and green agriculture sector on the brink of destruction

A ‘congestion of diseases’ waiting to invade Australia will require a big increase in biosecurity checks for people and freight into Australia.

David Littleproud - Federal Agriculture Minister
David Littleproud - Federal Agriculture Minister

A quarter of people intercepted coming through Sydney Airport earlier this year were carrying food items with African Swine Fever and two percent with Foot and Mouth Disease – deadly diseases to pigs and cattle.

Federal Agriculture minister David Littleproud, speaking at a Rural Seminar at Caboolture, said the fear of a biosecurity breach that could destroy Australia’s clean and green agriculture sector 'keeps me awake at night'.

The coming federal budget will increase spending in biosecurity safety, including sophisticated IT systems and checks and enhanced intelligence.

With 8.5 million containers coming into Australia each year, the Australian government was being forced to track containers back years, ‘from the time they might have been in a paddock in Africa’ to see where they may have picked up weed or animal diseases.

Last year the governmernt cancelled the visas of 14 people found bringing diseased food into Australia. It has increased fines to corporate importers to more than $1 million with 10 years jail.

Littleproud said the task for keeping diseases out of Australia as tourist and freight trade increased post COVID would be increasingly expensive and difficult – but never more necessary.

NEXT WEEK’s PAPER: Littleproud's comments on the agriculture labour shortage, the Queensland government blockage of dams, and opening a new agriculture research hub in north Queensland


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