Joint media release: Australian help for PNG’s African swine fever fight

28 April 2020

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne

  • Australia is supporting the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government’s quick action to  contain an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) detected in Southern Highlands Province last month.
  • If ASF hits Australia, it could devastate the pork industry and its 2700 producers.
  • ASF awareness messages have been distributed throughout the Torres Strait and in northern Australia to help protect Australia from ASF.

Australia has mobilised biosecurity, logistics and communications experts to work with Papua New Guinean counterparts to deal with an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Marise Payne said the Australian Government’s urgent multi-agency response aimed to slow the spread of ASF in Papua New Guinea and prevent its incursion onto our shores.

“With the confirmation of ASF in our near neighbour, our biosecurity measures are more important than ever as it could devastate Australia’s pork industry if it were to arrive here,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We commend Papua New Guinea for its quick action in response to the outbreak and we will continue to offer to support Papua New Guinea as it works to contain this disease.

“My department is providing PNG’s Chief Veterinary Officer with remote technical assistance, laboratory support and sharing expertise in working with remote communities to support PNG’s quarantine agency’s ASF response.”

Minister Payne said Australia is providing technical, risk communications, logistics and strategic coordination support through our Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus program.

“We are assisting Papua New Guinea with technical assistance through the provision of a veterinarian, help to establish a local disease control centre and the provision of logistics support at the location of the outbreak,” Minister Payne said.

“A key part of our response is the deployment of a risk-communications specialist to increase public awareness, including by producing targeted messages.”

Minister Payne said our support is whole-of-government, with the Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police working closely with PNG counterparts including to establish checkpoints to reduce the spread of the fever, while the Department of Home Affairs is also working with the PNG Government in relation to import controls. Australia is also collaborating closely with New Zealand and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in our response.

Fast facts

  • The Australian Government already has strict measures in place to stop ASF entering Australia.
  • This includes taking action to reduce the risk of ASF entering the country via Torres Strait into northern Australia. 
  • Additional interventions on flights from PNG have also been introduced in response to this detection.
  • The Government released its $66.6 million ASF border security response package last year.