Senator Susan McDonald from the opposition party and a number of farmers’ groups have urged the temporary closure of travel between Australia and Bali because of concerns that tourists may inadvertently import foot and mouth (FMD) disease.
The request comes after Australians were urged to leave their shoes in Bali before flying home to prevent the disease arrive in Australia. An outbreak would have a significant impact on Australia’s meat industry.
FMD, which infects cows, sheep, goats, and pigs, was detected in Indonesia in May and has the potential to cause A$80 billion or the equivalent of Rp818 trillion in losses if it spreads to livestock in Australia.
“If we don’t stop these flights, at least implement a seven-day quarantine. I don’t want to sit idle for a few weeks or months and later regret that I wasted the opportunity,” said McDonald as quoted by detikTravel.
“The wheels of these tourists’ luggage can be exposed to dirt on the streets, the footwear they are wearing, their clothes. Or they have even touched one of the animals nearby. This is not a disease that is only likely to spread if you go to a farm,” she continued.
However, this proposal was rejected by the government and tourism entrepreneurs because it could destroy an industry that is still trying to bounce back after the pandemic. Bali itself has begun to recover since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Passenger numbers arriving at Cairns Airport, Queensland, has reached 1,400 people every week. Meanwhile, 23,000 passengers came from Bali and arrived at Brisbane Airport.
The Australian Agriculture Minister Murray Watt also emphasised that until now the government has no plans to implement a travel ban to Indonesia, including Bali.
“I’ve been told by livestock leaders that they don’t support such a move because it would definitely affect trade relations with Indonesia, in addition to the damage it would do to Australia’s tourism industry,” he explained.
So far, biosecurity measures have been implemented at all airports for flights from Bali. Officers have deployed biosecurity risk detection dogs at Darwin and Cairns airports.
Signboards and leaflets have also been provided at major airports, and there is additional training for biosecurity officers. More than 300,000 head of cattle in Indonesia have been reported to be infected with FMD so far.