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Ramping up biosecurity to keep ASF out of Australia

Media Release 29 March 2020

  • Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IGB) latest report into measures at our borders to mitigate the risk of African swine fever
  • Range of measures being implement through the Government’s $66.6 million ASF response packaged established last year
  • Papua New Guinea officials report ASF in their Southern Highlands province

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud met with the Inspector-General of Biosecurity last week to discuss the IGB’s latest report, the Adequacy of preventative border measures to mitigate the risk of African swine fever.

Minister Littleproud said with the spread of ASF around the world, including to our neighbours Timor-Leste, Indonesia and now Papua New Guinea, our biosecurity is more critical than ever. 

“Australia already has strict measures in place to prevent ASF from hitting our shores, however it is important that we regularly assess and improve the measures we have in place” Minister Littleproud said.

“Key recommendations in the report included increasing intervention for international traveller arrivals, deploying detector dogs at major seaports, and increasing screening of express mail and parcels from ASF-affected countries.

“The Australian Government’s $66.6 million ASF response package means that many of these recommendations are already being implemented. 

“In late 2019, we increased intervention for high-risk international flights to enable an additional 500,000 travellers to be screened by the end of 2020.

“By July we will have six new detector dogs working to protect our borders. We are also bringing in an additional 130 extra frontline biosecurity officers. 

“The ASF-response package will also install two new 3D x-ray machines at the Sydney and Melbourne mail centres. This is a world-first biosecurity innovation that allows us to automatically detect risk items. 

“With the confirmation of ASF in our near neighbour, our biosecurity measures are more important than ever. We offer our assistance to PNG as they work to contain this disease.

“Biosecurity measures in place in the Torres Strait have been ramped up as a result of COVID-19 and are being re-assessed to ensure they effectively manage the risk that ASF in PNG poses to Australia.

“While ASF is not a public health concern, it could devastate Australia’s pork industry if it were to arrive here.

“Since last October’s changes to the Biosecurity Act 2015, we cancelled 12 visitor visas because of serious biosecurity breaches. If a person’s visa is cancelled, they are refused entry to Australia and generally won’t be able to apply for another visa for three years.

“We cannot take biosecurity for granted. It protects jobs, farms, and food and it supports the economy. We need everyone to do their part and comply with these conditions when travelling here.

“The Australian government has a no-nonsense approach to biosecurity non-compliance because we know how important it is to keep pests and diseases like ASF off our shores,” Minister Littleproud said. 

The IGB’s latest report is published here.