Murray Watt, Barnaby Joyce: Bali travellers leave shoes amid foot and mouth disease risk

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Grocery bills will “go through the roof” if just one case of foot and mouth disease enters the country, as Australians returning home from Bali are urged to leave their shoes behind.

Viral fragments of the highly infectious disease have been detected at Australia’s border after routine surveillance found dead virus in pork products imported from China in a Melbourne supermarket.

If the live virus enters Australia, it would decimate Australia’s cattle industry and cost the economy to the tune of $80bn.

It would also have massive implications for household grocery bills.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said if the disease – which causes abysses in hoofed animals and is incredibly virulent – entered Australia it would “destroy us”.

“People in the city go, it’s not really that bad. No, it’s really bad for you,” Mr Joyce told Channel 7.

“No butter, no milk, no cheese, no yoghurt, no beef, no pork, no lamb, no sausages, no mince. Guess what happens to your food bill?

“It goes through the roof.”

Mr Joyce has questioned why travellers returning from Bali – where there is a worrying outbreak – don’t just throw their shoes out before they board their flight home.

“Buy cheap shoes, drop them in the bin,” he said.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Karen Andrews went a step further and said Australia should close its border to Indonesia.

“We have to do what it takes,” she told Sky News

“Let’s not run the risk of FMD coming into Australia.”

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on Wednesday announced new biosecurity measures designed to prevent the disease from entering the country via travellers’ shoes.

While he says the risk of a traveller bringing it in is low, Senator Watt has issued a stern warning.

“We need the travelling public to do the right thing … We need people to clean their shoes thoroughly or preferably leave them behind,” he told ABC News.

“We all have a role to play here to make sure we do stay FMD free.

“There are big fines for people, and people need to understand that we take this really seriously, and we will throw the book at people if they do the wrong thing.”

Senator Watt said if one case entered Australia, it would shut down the livestock export industry overnight.

“There will be an immediate three-day standstill to any livestock movements to try to control where the virus was first discovered,” he said.

Chief veterinary officer Mark Shipp said he was “quite confident” authorities could keep the disease from entering the country.

“Many countries in our region have foot and mouth disease, and we’ve been dealing with that for decades,” he told the Nine Network.

“We know that once it entered Indonesia it would get into Bali and spread further, and we ramped up our biosecurity efforts in response to that.”

Farmer Ann Shipp said she was “very worried” about the impact the disease would have on Australia’s industry if it did enter the country.

“There would be a lot of slaughtered cattle,” she told the Nine Network.

“Shoes need to either be left there, thrown in the bin, or there has to be washing of shoes upon re-entering Australia.”

Originally published as Bali travellers urged to leave shoes behind as threat of foot and mouth disease intensifies


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