Foot and mouth outbreak risk 'diminishing'

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The risk of foot and mouth disease reaching Australia is diminishing as Indonesia suppresses its outbreak, state and territory leaders have been told.

More than 450,000 cases of the disease have been recorded in Indonesia and thousands of infected cattle have been slaughtered, according to media reports.

An expert biosecurity task force has been established to ensure Australia is fully prepared for any potential outbreak.

But West Australian Premier Mark McGowan on Friday indicated there was optimism Indonesia was getting on top of its outbreak.

"We had a long discussion about foot and mouth disease yesterday at national cabinet," he told reporters.

"The advice was that it's low-risk from Indonesia, and the risk is diminishing.

"(The federal government is) of the view that there's a lot of contact tracing going on in Indonesia and there's a lot of vaccination going on, which is reducing the risk.

"That's a good thing, and the task force and measures the Commonwealth government are putting in place are quite appropriate."

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt announced on Thursday the exotic animal disease preparedness task force would be created with officials from the Australian Defence Force, Australian Border Force and Animal Health Australia.

It will conduct a series of scenario-based exercises before reporting to the minister by September 5.

The task force is in addition to sanitation foot mats rolled out at every international Australian airport and bolstered powers for biosecurity officers screening arriving travellers following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Indonesia.

Australia is currently free of the disease, which affects livestock.

"You've got to remember that (foot and mouth disease) has existed in Vietnam and Thailand and other countries for a long period of time and it hasn't come into Australia, it's just it's now in Indonesia and there's measures being put in place to address it," Mr McGowan said.

Senator Watt said vaccines pledged for Indonesia to help it contain its outbreak of the disease were expected to hit the ground "very soon".

He said defence force personnel would help with logistics and planning.

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