New stronger biosecurity powers at international airports

The Commonwealth Government has established Biosecurity Response Zones at international airports, another strong measure in response to the Indonesian outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

The Director of Biosecurity, and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Andrew Metcalfe AO made the determination to establish the zones this afternoon, the first time this has been done under section 365 of the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said this step-up was the latest measure in the strongest biosecurity response in Australia’s history.

“Earlier this week, I directed my department to investigate what further control measures were available at our international airports,” Minister Watt said.

“I had been concerned about some rare reports that some return travellers were not doing the right thing when returning from Indonesia. 

“These zones strengthen and widen the powers of biosecurity officers to direct passengers to use foot mats and other biosecurity control measures such as the cleaning of shoes.

Minister Watt said the latest measure was on top of already announced measures which had been rolled out in the past two weeks, since the outbreak was first reported in Bali.

“We have wasted no time in getting on top of this issue and have been consistently ramping up measures at our airports and mail centres around the country,” Minister Watt said.

“We have already announced a $14 million assistance package to reduce the risk of FMD spreading from Bali to Australia which included increased detection and protection here in Australia and a million vaccines for the Indonesian cattle industry.

“I also announced the deployment of sanitisation foot mats at all international airports as an additional layer of protection for returning travellers from Indonesia.

“These mats have started to arrive in some airports around the country today and passengers will begin seeing them at customs in the coming days.”