Extra security for Aussie travellers due to swine fever alert

By Rodney Woods

Travellers returning from overseas can expect to go through unprecedented airport security screenings as Australia bolsters its defences against a devastating outbreak of African swine fever.

There will be more sniffer dogs, biosecurity officers and X-ray machines at airports across Australia over the summer, as part of the $66 million package to protect Australia's $5 billion pork industry.

The disease, which kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects but isn't dangerous to humans, is now on Australia's doorstep after being detected in South-East Asian countries including Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Authorities are particularly concerned about travellers returning from the Indonesian island resort of Bali, a favourite overseas spot for Australian travellers, and home to many domestic pigs.

Federal Agriculture Department biosecurity head Lyn O'Connell warned Australians arriving home from overseas to declare any goods and activities, or risk heavy penalties and fines.

“If you're going overseas, think hard about what you bring back and if you visit a farm or go off track to a rural area, declare it when you come home and avoid bringing high-risk products in your luggage and remove potentially contaminated soil on your shoes and camping gear,” she said.

Travellers who provide false or misleading information may receive a $420 fine or face civil or criminal charges.

A Vietnamese woman was deported in October for failing to declare more than 4.5 kg of pork in her luggage, along with squid, quail and eggs.