Qld plans livestock biosecurity task force

Marty Silk |

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government will recruit biosecurity officers to prevent livestock diseases.
Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government will recruit biosecurity officers to prevent livestock diseases.

Queensland will set up a task force to help protect the state’s livestock from “unprecedented biosecurity risks” amid the threat of foot and mouth disease on Australia’s doorstep.

More than 450,000 cases of the disease have reportedly been recorded in Indonesia and thousands of infected cattle have been slaughtered.

A national biosecurity task force is being set up to ensure Australia can respond to potential future outbreaks, but Queensland will establish its own unit to defend against animal disease risks.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 15 staff, including 10 officers based in regional areas, would be recruited to prepare Queensland’s livestock industry for future “unprecented biosecurity risks”.

She will brief her cabinet about the $22 million plan when it meets at the Ekka, the Royal Queensland Show, on Monday.

“Our livestock industries are an essential part of the Queensland economy and represent thousands of good, secure jobs in every region of this state,” Ms Palaszczuk tweeted on Monday.

“Primary producers are fighting to protect every single one of those jobs and my government is behind them 100 per cent.”

West Australian premier Mark McGowan on Friday said that state and territory leaders were told that Indonesia was suppressing its foot and mouth disease outbreak using contact tracing and vaccines, and the risk of it spreading to Australia was fading.

Federal agriculture minister Murray Watt last week announced the national exotic animal disease preparedness task force would be created with officials from the Australian Defence Force, Australian Border Force and Animal Health Australia.

It will conduct a series of scenario-based exercises before reporting to the minister by September 5.

The task force is in addition to the rollout of sanitation foot mats at every international Australian airport and bolstered powers for biosecurity officers screening arriving travellers following the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia.

Australia is currently free of the disease, which affects livestock.