Australia’s frontline defence against pests and diseases bolstered as 96 new biosecurity officers start work

Biosecurity officers at the Melbourne airport. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
Camera IconBiosecurity officers at the Melbourne airport. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images) Credit: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images, Asanka Ratnayake

Australia’s defence against African swine fever and hitchhiker pests was bolstered on Monday with an extra 96 biosecurity officers starting their first day of work.

The additional officers have been recruited to create a frontline offensive against evolving threats.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the bulk of the recruitment was part of the $58.6 million African swine fever response package and the $96.9 million to protect Australia from hitchhiker pests.

It follows Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s May announcement of a Federal Budget of $371 million to modernise biosecurity systems in four years.

“The 96 officers will be posted in major ports, airports and mail centres as a frontline deterrent against African swine fever and hitchhiker pest threats,” Mr Littleproud said.

“African swine fever is a contagious viral disease and it has no vaccine and can kill upward of 80 per cent of the pigs it infects, but it’s never breached Australian shores.”

Mr Littleproud said frontline resources were critical to managing emerging biosecurity risks.

“Our officers inspect, identify breaches and issue infringements at airports and mail centres,” he said.

“In the three years to 2021, 3000 consignments of meat were intercepted and 800 contained pork.”

He said more than 40 tonnes of pork was intercepted from air travellers by frontline resources including “eagled-eyed” biosecurity officers.

“An outbreak of African swine fever could potentially cost Australian industry $2.03 billion during the next five years,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The recruits will also target hitchhiker pests including Khapra beetle and Brown marmorated stink bug.

“Delivering initiatives like this is part of our $400.1 million commitment to biosecurity through the 2021-22 Budget package.

“We need all Australians to play their part to protect Australia.”

To find out more, visit awe.gov.au/biosecurity-trade/import/goods/plant-products.

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