Opposition calls on Agriculture Minister to take action on foot and mouth disease threat

The Opposition has urged the McGowan Labor Government to take immediate action to prevent economic disaster on the State’s agriculture sector, as foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks wreak havoc in Indonesia.

Shadow Agriculture Minister, Colin de Grussa, said the McGowan Labor Government must act swiftly to protect Western Australia’s $11 billion agriculture sector against its greatest threat.

“Australian agriculture has remained strong for many years thanks to rigorous biosecurity measures,” Mr de Grussa said.

“Which is why livestock producers across the State are today wondering why the McGowan Labor Government is paying such little attention to outbreaks of FMD in parts of Indonesia.

“We know of FMD outbreaks on Java and the hugely popular holiday destination of Bali, yet no solid actions have been taken to ensure these outbreaks aren’t brought into WA.”

Mr de Grussa said the dangerous situation required decisive action and called on the Agriculture Minister to make the strongest possible representations to the Federal Government to better manage arrivals from Indonesia while appropriate, long-term biosecurity protocols were established.

Mr de Grussa said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the benefit of strong biosecurity measures in protecting the WA economy and jobs.

“Whether the McGowan Labor Government adopts a similarly strong approach against this pathogen is yet to be seen,” he said.

“Under the McGowan Labor Government we have seen the fall army worm migrate south, the Russian wheat aphid outbreak, fire ants in Perth, European wasp and also the continuation of cane toads across the Kimberley.”

Mr de Grussa said the absence of government veterinary officers in regional locations, made it absolutely critical the McGowan Labor Government worked closely with the industry to ensure necessary measures were taken to prevent occurrence of foot and mouth disease in WA.

“Unlike her approach in the past, it is vital the Agriculture Minister takes decisive action and works proactively and transparently with all industry sectors,” he said.

“The Minister has dropped the ball on biosecurity in the past but this is one ball we simply can’t
afford to drop.

“The Opposition is ready and willing to work with the government to ensure the protection of our
vital primary industries and call on the Minister to put forward their plan.”