Littleproud lashes eastern states' biosecurity obscurity
In an exclusive interview on Flow Monday, the deputy leader of the National Party was scathing of various state governments for neglecting to uphold national standards on Australia’s biosecurity concerns.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told the Flow Morning Show:
“Biosecurity is a joint responsibility, while we protect the borders anything that happens inside the domestic borders actually are the remit of the States and so we all have a responsibility to play.”
“There was a review done of our biosecurity systems by Wendy Craig in 2018 and she made it very clear that both state and federal had to maintain their funding levels to a minimum of 2016-17 levels.”
“We’re trying to put together what we’re calling a national biosecurity strategy, so I wrote to the states and said ‘look its important you tell me exactly how much your spending and the programs you’re spending on’...unfortunately the States have all duck for cover.”
Hear the full interview on the FlowNews24 podcast.
Minister Littleproud told Flow that South Australia was delivering information 'at the moment' that he required, but the NSW, Victorian and other eastern states governments were not forthcoming. In some cases, the Minister claimed they had reduced their funding effort.
The Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia went on to reiterate his strong belief that states must not underfund their biosecurity programs as outbreaks deriving from pests abroad can be difficult to contain - with devastating impact.
“In some cases, they [state governments] have actually reduced their biosecurity spending and this is concerning because what we need to do is have everyone working together, understanding what we’re spending money on - because if there’s an incursion we really have to rely on one another to make sure we can eradicate otherwise it becomes a pest that we have to manage.”
As well as highlighting numerous biosecurity threats, Minister Littleproud also firmly stated that travellers entering Australia who failed to declare or dispose of any biosecurity risk goods would feel the full force of new biosecurity laws.
“The biggest threat that we’re finding at the moment is African Swine Fever and also foot and mouth disease.”
“Of the incursions we found, 24 percent had foot and mouth disease and about 26 percent had ASF (African Swine Fever), so that’s a huge incursion rate.”
“I’ve lifted the penalties from 400 dollars to over $2664 and we’re actually cancelling visas – I’ve actually sent 14 people home who’ve come to this country and broken our biosecurity laws and we have sent them on the plane they came in on because they didn’t declare.”
FlowNews24 reached out to eastern states' Agriculture Ministers for a reply to Littleproud’s comments but received no responses before deadline.