Airport foot mats latest measure in Australia's FMD toolkit

The Albanese Government will roll out another layer of protection against foot and mouth disease (FMD) transmission, with sanitation foot mats in international airports the latest measure to be introduced.

Australia’s biosecurity measures have been ramped up over several months in response to the Indonesian outbreak, with a $14 million biosecurity package announced on Friday to deliver more frontline defences in airports and mail centres, along with support on the ground for Indonesia and neighbouring countries.

Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt said Australia’s biosecurity system was already one of the strictest in the world, and mats would add yet another layer of defence on flights from Indonesia.

“I directed my department to look at what could be done around footwear to complement the other measures in place and after careful consideration, we have decided to deploy sanitation foot mats in Australia’s international airports,” Minister Watt said.

“The fact is, there is no biosecurity silver bullet - our biosecurity controls rely on a multi-layered approach to mitigate the risk of FMD.

“These sanitation mats will be a physical reminder to passengers to do the right thing to limit any spread of FMD, and will be used in conjunction with our current measures, such as passenger declaration, 100 per cent profiling of all passengers entering from Indonesia, real time risk assessments, questioning and shoe cleaning.

“We still encourage Australians to clean their shoes and clothing, and even leave their footwear overseas if they can.”

Following consultation with airports, two styles of mats will be used, with shipping already underway. 

The mats will begin to be seen in international terminals this week, starting in Darwin and Cairns.

Travellers arriving in Australia from Indonesia will be asked to walk across the mats to sanitise the soles of their shoes. 

The mats will contain a citric acid solution, designed to dislodge any dirt from the sole of the shoe and cover it in the acid.

Travellers will still be asked to declare their contact with farms and livestock, and those with visibly contaminated shoes will continue to be taken to the biosecurity area.

Further biosecurity measures will be discussed at today’s Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting – the first joint meeting between federal, state and territory Agriculture Ministers in eight months.

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