Federal Commitment on Fire Ants Welcomed - Better Queensland

Federal commitment on Fire Ants welcomed

  • Federal Government commits to extending fire ant eradication program 
  • National Fire Ant Eradication program has kept level of infestation low and to a relatively small area 
  • Left uncontrolled the cost impact of fire ants in Australia is estimated to be between $5.3b and $45b over 20 to 70 years

The Federal Government’s budget commitment to eradicate fire ants has been welcomed by the Queensland Liberal National Party.

LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Dale Last said the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement on fire ants gave a strong commitment to continuing and upgrading the eradication program. 

“The Federal Budget commits $1 billion to the National Landcare Program and the Deputy Prime Minister has given an undertaking to use part of this to eradicate fire ants from South-East Queensland,” Mr Last said. 

“This announcement is great news for Brisbane, Ipswich, Gatton, the Lockyer Valley and beyond.

“There’s no question the program has had its ups and downs and controversies. 

“But we’ve come a long way since the days when the Premier’s father and then Agriculture Minister Henry Palaszczuk hired hundreds of unemployed people from his own electorate of Inala to walk around and poke sticks into ant nests. 

“We’ve stopped using it as a disguised jobless program, and introduced latest scientific techniques to fully determine the spread of the ants.

“We now have a genuine commitment to see this through, to step up surveillance and baiting of fire ants, widely regarded as among the world’s worst invasive species because of environmental, social and economic impacts, especially to farming.”

Background

  • Independent review of National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program found "only a small window of opportunity left" to wipe out fire ants that have potential to be worst invasive species to ever cross Australia's borders.
  • Review, by Melbourne University, recommended a $380m, 10-year program.
  • National Fire Ant Eradication program has kept level of infestation low and to a relatively small area in SE Qld - of the 411,500 ha within the fire ant biosecurity zones in SE Qld, it’s estimated only 1% infested.
  • Left uncontrolled, cost impacts of fire ants in Australia estimated between $5.3b and $45b over 20 to 70 years.

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