Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:53): I rise to speak about the Livestock (Emergency Animal Disease) Amendment Bill 2022. This bill has come about because of what we need to do in response to risk factors and the potential for foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease to come to Australia. Both diseases will cause more than major problems; it will be an absolute disaster for our livestock industries. As has been indicated, over a period of 10 years the loss could be in the range of $80 billion to $100 billion to livestock industries right across Australia.
It was not that many years ago that we saw the devastation in England where herds of cattle were impacted by foot and mouth, getting burnt in funeral pyres. It is a terrible thing to see as a livestock owner (before I leased my property out) and for all farmers. You cannot help but think of what those livestock owners would have gone through when thinking of those terrible outcomes.
These are diseases that have to be controlled. I look at what was done by the former federal Liberal government: getting vaccines into Indonesia where there were outbreaks right across much of Indonesia, including Bali. I think it was at least $14 million and I think there might have been some more afterwards to assist with the vaccination program. That work was highly commended because we had a huge amount of self-interest in making sure that we got as many stock as possible vaccinated in Indonesia.
I note the quarantine efforts made at Australian airports in regard to people going to Indonesia. Initially, we were all very concerned and questioned whether we should stop flights altogether or whether the risks could be managed. Obviously with COVID slowing down a bit, flights had only recently resumed, not just interstate travel but also international travel, and that service was kept going but with very, very strict controls in place.
I certainly had personal experience. I think it was in August or whenever the winter break was that I did go to Bali. It was my first trip to Bali and it was good living in a country where there is not much regulation. It was fantastic, actually, for a few days, and then you come back to a place like Australia. I understand why we have so much regulation. People often say to me, 'You guys should sit more often,' and I say, 'Well, we only take your freedoms away while we are in parliament.' That is exactly what we do, and I will attribute that phrase to its rightful owner: Patrick Secker, the former member for Barker.
That is exactly what we do, so it was a liberating experience for those few days. But in the back of my mind I was only too aware of the potential of a problem for anyone coming back from Indonesia, and there were many hundreds of thousands of people who were participating in that. There were plenty of warnings on the planes about the protocols, which is absolutely right. I drummed into the five other people I was travelling with that you stick absolutely to the protocols. If you are not prepared to clean any of the shoes that you had while you were away, throw them out, and you will have to do something else for footwear on your way home.
Like a lot of people who go there, I certainly enjoyed activities like whitewater rafting and four-wheel motorbike ATV riding and it was great. I must say, I made sure that everyone in the group got tubs of water and old toothbrushes and cleaned those shoes with disinfectant within an inch of their lives. I think I dug out of my sandals some small bits of gravel that probably went all the way from Coomandook and they have been left forever in Indonesia.
It was excellent on the way home to see the huge pull-up banners in Denpasar airport showing us the strict regulations on flying back to Australia. All carry-on luggage was inspected by the Indonesian authorities, and we were certainly told what could happen on entry to Australia. There was no doubt left in anyone's mind.
Antiseptic foot mats had been put in place at Adelaide Airport. When we got back to Adelaide Airport, there were random inspections of baggage and we were pulled up as a group three times and questioned. I was very pleased that happened. If I had to, I was happy to get my bags out and open them up, as were the whole group. I think the protocols that were in place were very good. That was essentially to help combat foot-and-mouth disease.
Lumpy skin disease is another matter. That could come over with high cyclonic winds—maybe not even cyclonic—those wind paths and bring that disease straight into Australia no matter what the quarantine efforts. It is great that there are those protocols in place at Australian and Indonesian airports to do all that we can to manage the potential for those insurrections of foot and mouth or lumpy skin disease, so I support this legislation.
The bill will strengthen powers within the Livestock Act and contains provisions required to control or eradicate livestock diseases. These provisions are already utilised regularly for the control or eradication of notifiable livestock diseases. These measures will be strengthened with this new bill to ensure speed of implementation and will enable any response to be agile in the event of an emergency animal disease incursion.
Certainly many constituents were worried about what the exclusion zones would be and what would happen in an outbreak. I said that it would depend where it was and how many properties were involved. Rules were put in place, and we had a briefing, and the minister from the other place, the Hon. Clare Scriven, and PIRSA representatives, such as Mehdi Doroudi, were there. We were told it would depend on a whole range of factors whether the exclusion zone would be a few square kilometres or many square kilometres. People were asking me what compensation there would be and so on.
The bigger picture was that a foot-and-mouth incursion especially, and lumpy skin disease, would be such a massive detriment to our industry—it would basically shut it down—that those initial incursion zones pale into insignificance on what could happen not just on the state scale but on the national scale. We have to be vigilant all the time in these matters, and Australia has stepped up its biosecurity measures.
On top of what I have already said, it includes risk profiling from travellers going to Indonesia and the disinfectant foot mats at airports. I have indicated the quantum of the outbreak. It would immediately threaten South Australia's exports of livestock products, which were worth $954 million, just short of $1 billion, in 2020-21. It would also impact the $1.3 billion worth of interstate trade. A loss of export markets would also impact domestic prices for meat and meat-related products. An outbreak of lumpy skin disease would affect approximately $7.39 billion worth of exports across 23 countries.
Certainly, the effects go further than just the meat industry itself. The incursion would have long-lasting wider impacts on the tourism industry, trade, health, wellbeing, education and research. Regional communities, where quite a few of us in this place come from, would be the most vulnerable.
This legislation was consulted on with the South Australian Dairyfarmers' Association, Pork SA, Livestock SA and Primary Producers SA. They indicated that they are all supportive of the bill. Some of these amendments include that notices would be published on websites prior to the publication in the Gazette, enabling a more timely and efficient response. They will provide the ability to limit the application of a notice to a specified class of persons, a specified class of livestock, livestock products or other property or specified circumstances, and exempt a person or a class of persons from a requirement imposed by a notice.
They will provide inspectors with the ability to take a required action where a person fails to comply with a notice in an order in a specified or reasonable time frame. Where there are impacts on any native animals as part of a required emergency response, the amendments provide flexibility on when consultation with the relevant minister is required. They will also provide the ability to provide the kind of property for which an inspector may issue an order, take action or cause action to be taken for the destruction, demolition or disposal of property. This shows how seriously this bill is taking the potential of these incursions—any incursions—into the animal industry in South Australia and Australia overall in the longer term.
They will address identified gaps in current powers that will support emergency response efforts. Where appropriate, these powers have been limited in their application to emergency responses regarding exotic diseases only. These powers relate to the use of land; construction, reinforcement or repair of buildings, fences, gates or other structures; disinfection of places and property; possession and supervision of property to support response efforts; and the power to stop work or close any place.
When an increased risk of exotic disease has been declared, powers to undertake surveillance and proof of freedom testing have been added for monitoring disease incursions or for market access purposes. Maximum penalty provisions for hindering offences have been revised, and statutory immunity for the Crown has been made more explicit and limited, consistent with the protections provided in the Emergency Management Act 2004.
The simple fact is that any incursions of these exotic diseases, especially foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease, would cause problems not just for one season, not just for two seasons, but it could be 10 to 15 years before we would get full clearance from these diseases to get both intrastate and export licensing back for our products to be traded.
It would have a massive impact on prices for goods. We would see meat prices go through the roof, if you could get meat that was clean, and it would create so many expensive issues in the supply chain because things would have to be disinfected more and there would be more checks, and I can tell you from history that these costs always come back to industry. They always come back to the farmer, who would bear the brunt of these costs.
I had a little bit to do with stock many years ago. We had Hereford cattle, and dad was a very good breeder of Hereford cattle. The only reason he did not have a stud was that he could not be bothered with the paperwork. We put Hereford bulls throughout the Mallee and the Upper South-East. The last breeder we bought came out of Urrbrae High School—Urrbrae Crinkly Chips—(not much of a stud name, but that was his name), and he sired quite a few good calves. We also had merino breeding sheep over time and also Polwarths.
Being involved in the sheep industry at shearing level, I know they can get a disease called scabby mouth, which is a bit ugly and where sheep have a lot of lesions around the face. When you are a shearer you really do not want to shear them, not that you are going to catch scabby mouth but you try to find a bag or a rag to put over their head so that you can shear them.
I must commend farmers for what they do in trying times. We have been blessed in the last few years and even now with good prices for stock, but it has been a long time coming. In the last few years, they have been prices for stock that have not been seen. But if you look at price for stock—and compared it to input and, dare I say it, real wage growth—we are probably still a long way behind. That is another good reason we must do everything we can to make sure we keep our livestock clean to support our producers and the families and the families of the workers who work on our properties and support the industry into the future. So I certainly commend this bill.
We need to do all we can into the future to make sure we look after our livestock industries. We have various levels of biosecurity here already getting initiated. We have property identification codes. We have electronic identification, which is not too bad on cattle, but the tags are about $1.50 each. Trying to implement that into the sheep sector is obviously worth many tens of millions of dollars just in South Australia alone, and I know there are ongoing discussions with Livestock SA about where that lands.
But what that tells me, apart from being a bit horrified about the cost of it, is that the industry and farmers are having a good look at keeping their flocks safe and making sure that with anything that crops up as a biosecurity threat at any local level, at the farm level—and that is intrastate trade here with livestock or interstate—people can see where they have come from and where they are going.
Sheep travel around in different environments. You get northern station sheep, West Coast sheep and some of those might get traded into the Lower South-East and suddenly they find out they are living in wet feet. I can remember many years ago shearing some sheep that had not grown out too well, and once sheep have stunted a bit they never come good, and you would get them down to the South-East and the wool was stuck on, but that is another matter.
In regard to this legislation, we need to do whatever we can. I think there are a couple of amendments to be dealt with at the committee stage. We do need to support our livestock industry into the future, especially when I think about what is happening with processing soon in my electorate with the Thomas Foods beef plant opening up early next year so that we can get that new beef chain operating, and then hopefully the small stock one with the sheep plant getting built soon after that. I commend the bill.