Senator calls for action on African swine fever risk


THE absence of any detection dogs at Cairns Airport has been labelled a major threat as African swine fever threatens Australian borders.

Cairns-based Labor Senator Nita Green has called on the Federal Government to explain what steps it is taking to ensure the disease does not hit Far North Queensland.

"Countries with flights into Cairns Airport have been dealing with the huge costs of outbreaks among their livestock," she said.

Labor Senator Nita Green. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.
Labor Senator Nita Green. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.

"African swine fever has a 90 per cent or more mortality rate.

"The viral disease has already ravaged China, with China's total number of live hogs falling 41.1 per cent in the past 12 months.

"If it were to hit Queensland, the state's $300 million pork industry could be wiped out."

Australian Pork Limited chief executive Margo Andrae told a Senate Estimates hearing this week that if the fever entered Australia: "There is no vaccine, pigs will die and it will decimate our industry."

Sen Green said that for the sake of the pork industry and food security in Queensland, more resources were needed to "protect Australia's reputation for clean, high quality food".