Australia would be unable to deal with a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, costing the agricultural industry up to AUS$16 bill., a review of the country's infection contingency plans for the disease has found.
Australia has not had an outbreak since 1872 but its recent appearance in Japan and Britain is disturbing, the report said.
Department modelling found that losses, over 10 years, ranged from AUS$7.1 bill. for a small three-month outbreak, to AUS$16 bill. for a large 12-month outbreak.
The reason for the grim forecast is that Australia does not have sufficient suitable human resources to manage anything other than a small foot-and-mouth incursion.
Among the dozens of recommendations is the need for better co-operation between states and the federal government, including on vaccination.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has written to his state and territory colleagues ahead the primary industries minister's meeting in Melbourne urging them to all work together. Another item on the agenda is developing a national standard for domestic animal slaughter.