The confirmed outbreak of a highly-infectious disease on Australia’s doorstep should be a wake-up call for politicians, NSW Farmers says, with fears of economic catastrophe if it reaches out shores.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Indonesia was far too close for comfort, with a local outbreak tipped to cost the economy up to $60 billion, plunging us into recession.
“This is a disease that will absolutely smash our economy if it reaches out shores,” Mr Jackson warned.
“We have been calling on both sides of politics to make an urgent commitment to action on biosecurity, but neither side seems prepared to do it properly.
“An FMD outbreak is a clear and present danger to Australia, but until we take it seriously we will all be exposed to the risk.”
The disease is a highly-infectious RNA virus that is transmissible between animals such as sheep, cows, goats and pigs. It is light enough that it has, in the past, been found to travel via fog from France to the United Kingdom. Mr Jackson, a trained veterinarian with expertise on the disease, said it was not good enough that Australia was still so woefully unprepared for an outbreak.
“The potential cost to the economy is directly related to how long we take to get on top of it, which is why we’ve been calling for urgent funding,” Mr Jackson said.
“We don’t have enough people trained to respond, and we don’t have enough people carrying out that biosecurity enforcement at our borders.
“Imagine we knew COVID-23 was just around the corner but our governments failed to prepare for it: we’d be absolutely ropable, and this is a very similar situation with FMD.”
Mr Jackson said a sustainable funding model for border biosecurity must be pursued by state and federal governments to protect NSW and Australia’s agricultural industries.
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