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Traveller fined, refused entry to Australia for 'significant' biosecurity breach

SYDNEY, Oct 30 (Reuters) - An international traveller has been fined and refused entry to Australia after trying to bring meat into the country in what the government said on Sunday was a "significant breach" of biosecurity laws to protect Australia from foot and mouth disease.

Australia earlier this year stepped up protection against foot and mouth disease at its international airports following an outbreak in Indonesia.

In a statement, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said the traveller had been fined $2,664 and blocked from entering Australia after attempting to bring 6 kilograms of meat products into the country.

"Australian biosecurity officers uncovered the undeclared meat during a baggage inspection at Perth Airport (on) October 18," the ministers said.

The traveller failed to declare 3.1 kg of duck, 1.4 kg of beef rendang, over 500 grams of frozen beef and nearly 900 grams of chicken concealed in his luggage, they said.

O’Neil said the traveller was referred to Australian Border Force officers, who cancelled the man's visa.

“This is why legislation is in place to cancel the visa of any traveller who commits a significant biosecurity breach or repeatedly contravenes biosecurity laws,” she said.

Foot and mouth disease is highly transmissible and causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals, but does not affect humans.

The government has estimated a large outbreak in Australia could see revenue losses of up to $A51.8 billion ($33.2 billion) over ten years.

In Indonesia, authorities have been working to get an outbreak under control that has infected hundreds of thousands of livestock and killed thousands of animals. (Reporting by Sam McKeith Editing by Chris Reese)

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