Ministers meet, passenger fined

Detector dog Zinta, with her handler, sniffed out undeclared food products at Darwin International Airport.

After an eight-month hiatus, agriculture ministers from every state and territory met to discuss the country’s agricultural priorities.

It was the first meeting chaired by new Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.

“It’s clear biosecurity is quite rightly top of mind for everyone,” Senator Watt said.

“Threats of foot and mouth disease, lumpy skin disease and varroa mite reinforces the importance of a strong, shared biosecurity effort, because incursions don’t stop at our borders.

“As a result, we have agreed on pathways to deliver a national framework to improve biosecurity, through more traceability and a new national strategy.”

Ministers agreed in-principle to progress work on a national approach to Australia’s livestock traceability systems, as well as finalising a National Biosecurity Strategy.

The meeting agreed tackling workforce availability issues will be an ongoing priority and affirmed a strong commitment to action on climate change, including a desire to show greater urgency pursuing the opportunities and addressing the challenges Australian agriculture faces from climate change.

The ministers will meet again in coming weeks.

Passenger fined for carrying meat

A detector dog at Darwin International Airport uncovered undeclared meat on a passenger arriving from Indonesia last week.

Detector dog Zinta responded to a passenger’s backpack and after further inspection it was found they were carrying a variety of risk items including two egg and beef sausage McMuffins from McDonald’s in Bali and a ham croissant.

The seized meat products will be tested for foot and mouth disease before they are destroyed.

The returning passenger has been issued with a $2664 infringement notice.

The passenger was issued a 12-unit infringement notice for failing to declare potential high biosecurity risk items and providing a false and misleading document.

Last month the Federal Government announced a new $14 million biosecurity package to deliver more front-line defences in mail centres and airports.

The government has also rolled out biosecurity dogs at Darwin and Cairns airports, sanitation foot mats at all international airports and support on the ground for Indonesia and neighbouring countries.