Australia helps fight African swine fever in Papua New Guinea

By Country News

Australia has supported the Papua New Guinea Government’s quick action to contain an outbreak of African swine fever detected in PNG's Southern Highlands last month.

ASF awareness messages have been distributed throughout the Torres Strait and in northern Australia to help protect against the disease.

Australia has also mobilised biosecurity and communications experts to work with their PNG counterparts to deal with an outbreak of ASF.

Australia's Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Marise Payne said the Australian Government’s urgent multi-agency response aimed to slow the spread of ASF in PNG and prevent its incursion into Australia.

“With the confirmation of ASF in our near neighbour, our biosecurity measures are more important than ever, as it could devastate Australia’s pork industry if it were to arrive here,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We commend Papua New Guinea for its quick action in response to the outbreak and we will continue to offer to support Papua New Guinea as it works to contain this disease.

“My department is providing PNG’s chief veterinary officer with remote technical assistance, laboratory support and sharing expertise in working with remote communities to support PNG’s quarantine agency’s ASF response.”

Ms Payne said Australia was providing technical, risk, communications, logistics and strategic co-ordination support through the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus program.

“We are assisting Papua New Guinea with technical assistance through the provision of a veterinarian, help to establish a local disease control centre and the provision of logistics support at the location of the outbreak,” Ms Payne said.

“A key part of our response is the deployment of a risk communications specialist to increase public awareness, including by producing targeted messages.”

The Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police have worked closely with their PNG counterparts to establish checkpoints in an effort to reduce the spread of African swine fever, while the Department of Home Affairs has also worked with the PNG Government on controlling imports.