Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has flown to Jakarta for urgent talks with Indonesian authorities, as biosecurity measures are beefed up at Australia’s borders to prevent foot and mouth disease spreading from Bali. Biosecurity officers have been boarding all planes arriving from Indonesia since July 7 and providing FMD advice to travellers, who are being subjected to more targeted interventions and luggage inspections. Detector dogs trained to sniff out contaminated meat and animal products have been deployed at Darwin and Cairns airports, with dogs already stationed at all other international airports in Australia. Airport biosecurity staff are receiving extra training while mail profiling and inspections have been ramped up, Mr Watt said. FMD has been spreading rapidly throughout Indonesia since early May and was confirmed in Bali on July 5, bringing the country’s total to more than 230,000 cases across at least 22 provinces. Mr Watt flew to Jakarta on July 13 to discuss with Indonesian ministers how Australia could help. “This is the next step in our two pronged approach, which involves strong biosecurity action at home and abroad,” he said. “I’ll be accompanied by National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson and Australia’s chief vet, Dr Mark Schipp, in a joint effort from government and industry to combat this potentially devastating disease.” Mr Watt said FMD was a “top priority” and high level discussions would continue with Indonesian authorities and the nations’ livestock industries. “Biosecurity is a shared responsibility and it is crucial every traveller returning to Australia from areas affected by FMD follows the biosecurity instructions we have in place at the border,” he said. “High risk materials cannot be brought into the country, including contaminated equipment or clothing, animals or animal products, such as meat products and cheese.” Additional signage and flyers have been placed at airports, with the Government also launching a social media campaign outlining FMD risks and precautions and informing travellers of their biosecurity responsibilities. Mr Watt said the new measures would build on those implemented when the outbreak began, including assessing all passengers on flights from Indonesia and flagging those deemed high risk for screening. He said he was receiving regular briefings from experts including Dr Schipp, as well as Australia’s biosecurity director Andrew Metcalfe and National Animal Disease Taskforce head Chris Parker. “During his recent visit to Indonesia, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese committed Australian support, including vaccines and technical expertise, to respond to the outbreak,” Mr Watt said. “Indonesia has accepted Australia’s offer and we are progressing that support as a matter of urgency.” A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the exact amount of funding to be allocated for FMD assistance was “subject to further discussion with Indonesian officials”. Indonesia is home to about 16.6m head of cattle — including some 600,000 in Bali — with the first FMD vaccinations having commenced in Java on June 25 and being rolled out on a daily basis. About 800,000 doses have been distributed so far according to Indonesian-based veterinarian and analyst Ross Ainsworth. FMD does not pose a threat to humans but affects all cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. On July 7, Mr Watt convened a briefing of about 80 farm, food and biosecurity leaders, where he pledged the Government’s commitment to “implementing any sensible measures to prevent an outbreak”. “Separately, I was also briefed from some of Australia’s leading biosecurity experts, including from CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness and the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis,” he said. “At both briefings, I received valuable feedback and suggestions for additional measures and am now seeking departmental advice on them.” National Party Federal leader David Littleproud has called for foot dips to be introduced for all travellers returning from Indonesia. But Mr Watt ruled out the move, telling the ABC many would be wearing thongs and the disinfectant would be too corrosive on exposed skin. Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Tony Seabrook said the Government had been “slow to act” and should be doing more to protect Australia. “If someone’s been trudging around a field in Indonesia where there’s been an infected cow, all it takes is a couple of grains of poo on his boots, it can come in that easily,” Mr Seabrook said. “Putting sniffer dogs at airports looks and sounds good, but they can’t sniff the bloody bacteria if it’s on someone’s shoe or in their suitcase.” WAFarmers president John Hassell welcomed the new measures, saying contaminated meat and animal products presented the biggest threat of infection. Mr Hassell said returning travellers — especially those living in rural areas — should be prepared to quarantine upon arrival. “Not everyone’s gong to like that, but it’s a small imposition,” he said. WA shadow agriculture minister Colin de Grussa accused the McGowan Government of “paying little attention” to the Indonesian FMD outbreak and of failing to take “solid action” to protect WA. “Unlike her approach in the past, it is vital the Agriculture Minister (Alannah MacTiernan) takes decisive action and works proactively and transparently with all industry sectors,” he said. “The Minister has dropped the ball on biosecurity in the past but this is one ball we simply can’t afford to drop.” Ms MacTiernan hit back, saying the Opposition should have “learned from the COVID pandemic that the public expects them to work constructively with Government”. She said FMD was a “major biosecurity focus” for the McGowan Government and WA was “much better placed than ever before to respond”. “Our $15 million investment in the 2021-22 State Budget has delivered 22 new full-time equivalent biosecurity positions to enhance early warning and detection, boost emergency preparedness and build response capacity,” she said. FMD symptoms include blisters on the mouth, drooling and limping. Any symptoms should be reported to a veterinarian or Australia’s Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.