WITH African swine fever confirmed less than 700 kilometres from Australia’s northern border agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie says the government will be boosting biosecurity to keep the disease out.

“One quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year from African swine fever which kills about 80% of the pigs it infects and there’s no vaccine and no cure,” Ms McKenzie said.

The government is stepping up border intervention to protect Australia’s 2700 pork producers and Australia’s global reputation as a supplier of clean, green, safe and nutritious food.

“We’re boosting our biosecurity effort at international airports to target those flights from countries affected by African swine fever and in coming weeks we will be undertaking spot checks of each and every person arriving on selected flights.

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“I’ve asked my department to employ detector dog capabilities in Darwin given the heightened risk direct flights from Timor Leste could pose.

“We’re also working with airlines in countries that have African swine fever to make sure passengers understand our requirements and have every opportunity to comply.

Earlier this year, the government implemented changes to immigration legislation so that international visitors who bring in undeclared high risk items, like pork from African swine fever affected countries, can be sent back home. They can be refused entry to Australia and have their visas cancelled for up to three years.

“Since we increased border checks we’ve been seizing 100 kilograms week in illegal pork products. Between 5 November 2018 and 31 August 2019 over 27 tonnes of pork were intercepted on air travellers entering Australia,” Ms McKenzie said.

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