I think it’s important to start the 47th Parliament on a positive note. I want to thank the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for organising a briefing just moments ago in relation to foot-and-mouth disease. In the order of 100 MPs and staff attended that briefing, which reflects the concern across the parliament, across the chambers in relation to the crisis which is developing to our north. Across regional Australia people are extremely anxious about this biosecurity crisis for our northern neighbours. As the member for Wright said earlier, the social and the economic impact of such an incursion onto home soil here in Australia would be absolutely devastating for our regional areas. Our trade reputation would be trashed.
This is an issue which has to be above politics in this place. I urge all ministers—all ministers—in this place to understand the importance of this issue, even if it’s not in your portfolio. I know you have a lot of important matters in front of you. This issue is critical. You have to communicate with the Australian public more clearly on what you’re doing and what additional steps you’re prepared to take to keep us safe. Australians want reassurance. They want to know we’re doing everything we possibly can to stop an incursion onto our home soil. If more needs to be done, everything must be on the table. If the Indonesians need more support, we have to provide it. It’s much better to keep the disease away from Australian soil than to try and mitigate once it arrives. I urge the Prime Minister to consider forming a bipartisan task force to work together, to use the experience from across this chamber, to make sure we keep Australia safe.