WA’s Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan has hosed down fears of a “catastrophe” from foot and mouth disease, saying it is not going to stop meat and milk being consumed in WA households. In fact, she said the staple grocery items could even be made cheaper if the highly contagious disease — that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs — got into Australia. “I know this isn’t the line that newspapers want to hear but we’ve got to keep this in perspective,” Ms MacTiernan told The West Australian. “We’re not going to see all of our cattle industry decimated. We will still have a domestic industry. I would not say it would be catastrophic. It would be costly and very unfortunate. But even if it does happen, we can move beyond it. “It’s not going to stop milk or meat being available to us. And some people might argue it might actually make it cheaper because there’ll be more of it available domestically. “There are these other processes that we’re also working on, like lumpy skin and shot-hole borer that are already here. We’ve got many, many threats that we’re working on.” Under a nationally agreed response to an FMD outbreak, all livestock transport would come to an immediate stop for at least 72 hours, and if it is major it is estimated to cost the industry $80 billion. Ms MacTiernan said in the event the disease reached WA, a team of 700 people would be called upon to trigger a COVID-like response with contact tracing, lockdowns and interstate border closures for livestock. Sick animals would also be culled. Currently, there are up to 50 staff members from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development working on the State’s preparedness plan. “When a disease arrives — if it’s a human or animal disease — it needs to be all hands on deck,” Ms MacTiernan said. “A lot of that will be only needed in the fairly short-term to do the initial contact tracing . . . and do inspections. “(If FMD hits) the Eastern States (first), we can then invoke our powers under the Exotic Animal Diseases Act to basically put in the hard border against animal products and animals coming into WA.” Electronic ear tags are set to become mandatory across Australia’s 70.6 million-head sheep flock, which is expected to cost WA taxpayers up to $49 million over three years to implement. “The contact-tracing capability you get with electronic tagging compared to the system that we currently use on sheep is huge, and it’s very critical,” Ms MacTiernan said. “We’re talking about being able to trace everything in 24 hours.” It comes as Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said the Albanese Government was not going to stop flights from Indonesia, where the FMD outbreak started in May, following renewed calls from the Coalition on Thursday. Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and Liberal MP Karen Andrews urged the government to slam the border shut to its northern neighbour, after more fragments of the livestock virus were detected in a beef product at Adelaide airport. A day earlier, Senator Watt confirmed fragments of the disease were found in pork products on sale in Melbourne, that had been imported from China, and in a beef item brought in by a traveller from Indonesia. “We have some of the world’s best biosecurity systems,” Senator Watt said. “We have no plans to close the borders either in Indonesia or to any of the other many countries that have foot and mouth disease.” Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called on the Prime Minister to take stronger action, saying he was “in charge” of the “significant threat to our livestock industry and to the broader economy”.