The risk of foot-and-mouth disease reaching Australia is declining as Indonesia suppresses the outbreak, state and territory leaders have been told.
More than 450,000 cases of the disease have been recorded in Indonesia, according to media reports, and thousands of infected cattle have been slaughtered.
An expert biosafety task force has been set up to ensure Australia is fully prepared for any potential outbreak.
But Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan indicated on Friday that there was optimism that Indonesia would come on top of the outbreak.
“We had a long discussion about foot and mouth disease at the national cabinet yesterday,” he told reporters.
“The advice was that it is low risk from Indonesia, and the risk is decreasing.
“(The federal government) believes that there is a lot of contact tracing and vaccination in Indonesia, which reduces the risk.
“That’s a good thing, and the task force and the measures that the Commonwealth government is putting in place are very appropriate.”
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt announced on Thursday that the exotic animal preparedness task force will be established with officials from the Australian Defense Force, Australian Border Force and Animal Health Australia.
It will conduct a series of scenario-based exercises before reporting to the minister by September 5.
The task force is alongside sanitary floor mats being rolled out at every international Australian airport and strengthened powers for biosecurity officers screening arriving travelers following the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia.
Australia is currently free of the disease that affects livestock.
“You have to remember that (foot and mouth disease) has been around for a long time in Vietnam and Thailand and other countries and it has not come to Australia, it is now only in Indonesia and measures are being taken to deal with it,” said Mr. McGowan.
Senator Watt said vaccines pledged to Indonesia to help contain the disease outbreak are expected to get off the ground “very soon”.
He said defense personnel would help with logistics and planning.