Australia’s Agriculture Minister Murray Watt will head to Jakarta to assess Indonesia’s response to foot and mouth disease, and offer assistance.
The highly contagious livestock disease was detected on the archipelago in May and further spread to Bali last week.
Also attending the high-level government talks on Wednesday with Indonesian ministers is National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson and Australia’s chief vet Mark Schipp, who will help work out how Australia can assist its neighbour.
Ms Simson, who is flying to Jakarta on Tuesday, says it’s critical Australia helps Indonesia to fight the disease.
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“Indonesia is one of our most important trade and diplomatic partners,” she told AAP.
“We’re working closely with Minister Watt and supporting him on this trip to Indonesia to understand the situation first hand and explore options for how we can support our partners in Indonesia.”
Farmers are also urging travellers from Bali to throw out their thongs before arriving in Australia, to help stop foot and mouth disease spreading further.
It is estimated it would cost the agricultural industry $80 billion if foot and mouth disease arrived in Australia.
Ms Simson said travellers who buy themselves a new pair of shoes after their holiday will be performing an act of national service.
She said those people throwing away their old footwear will be given a voucher towards a new pair of shoes.
“Foot and mouth disease loves to hitchhike on shoes,” Ms Simson told AAP.
“That means your dirty old holiday pluggers could be the thing that brings this disaster to our shores.”
The NSW farmer said it was a lighthearted response to a serious problem.
“We need travellers to be aware that they could inadvertently bring this virus in on their shoes, or on their clothing, or on goods they might bring into Australia.”
Last week, biosecurity measures were strengthened at Australian airports after the livestock disease was discovered in the popular holiday destination of Bali.
Detector dogs are operating at Darwin and Cairns airports and biosecurity officers are boarding flights from Indonesia to do checks of travellers arriving from Indonesia.
“Travellers need to clean off their footwear, to wash their clothes, to perhaps avoid going near any animals whilst they’re away and to avoid animal contact when they come back,” Ms Simson said.
“We’re urging travellers in Bali to throw their thongs, ditch their footwear, bin their boots, and Ringers Western will give them a 30 per cent voucher on their return.
“I never thought we’d be helping people buy new shoes to keep my cattle safe, but here we are.”
The chief vet last week told AAP consideration was being given to the introduction of footbaths for travellers arriving in the country from Indonesia.
Ms Simson welcomed any measures that can help stop the transfer of the disease.
“Let’s make sure we do everything we can to stop the disease, to make sure people’s footwear is not infected, is not carrying soil, and other matter that could be harbouring the virus.”