Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry has slammed Agriculture Minister, Senator Murray Watt for the late announcement of a ban on importing meat products for personal use from all countries with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) after the National Party called for a ban on 22nd July.
Ms Landry said Senator Watt’s announcement shows he is once again late to make a decision that could affect the entire agriculture industry.
“Senator Watt is late to the party and he has shown that he grossly underestimates the risks of FMD.
“The National Party previously called for a simple ban on returning passengers from Indonesia carrying food products since the 22nd July following a briefing by the Department due to changing risk profile once FMD arrived in Bali and due to the sheer number of returning passengers to Australia.
“Senator Watt fundamentally does not understand the requirement to act fast. It is taking him an average of six weeks to make a decision.”
Ms Landry said Senator Watt’s actions have shown he does not understand what FMD can do to the Central Queensland, where an outbreak is expected to cost the region $1.1 billion, or 5.2 per cent of the region’s economy.
“Senator Watt dismissed the use of foot mats at our airports, only to then introduce them weeks later. He said 1 million vaccines were being sent to Indonesia, but they somehow took almost seven weeks to get there.
“He clearly does not have a proper understanding of the implications of these risks and is not prepared to show leadership, make bold decisions or act quickly. His dithering could cost $214.4 million to Rockhampton’s economy and $121.8 million to the economy of Livingstone Shire should an outbreak of FMD occur.
“We are still calling for the introduction of 3D X-ray technology to assist with luggage screening, for the Government to bring forward $20 million in funding for traceability grants and that they establish a National Livestock Genebank.” Ms Landry said.