Stop the spread of fire ants
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Stop the spread of fire ants.
The Queensland government has spent $400m of public money on hundreds of staff and thousands of tonnes of bait over 15 years on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. The fire ant infestation is now ten times bigger than it was when fire ants were first detected around Brisbane in 2001.
Fire ants are a super-pest that threaten our environment, economy and life-style. Fire ants are capable of infesting most of Australia.
In 2001, fire ant experts from the USA recommended that the Queensland government implement a program of ‘aggressive containment’ to stop businesses who move fire ant friendly materials like soil, mulch or turf, or residents moving infested pot plants from carelessly or accidentally spreading fire ants.
But the Commonwealth government will only fund eradication programs. Australian states have to pay the full costs for any biosecurity containment program. So the Queensland government, anxious to secure Commonwealth funding, embarked on a long term program of eradication. The chase to find and kill the last fire ant came at the expense of an ‘aggressive containment’ regime. Consequently, the fire ant infestation is now ten times as bad as it was in the beginning.
An independent scientific review of the program in 2009 said that the Queensland Government’s eradication program was not working and recommended it implement a program of ‘aggressive containment.’ But a handful of biosecurity inspectors, supported by a few road signs, cannot find, advice and audit the thousands of businesses and residents in south-east Queensland now might be spreading fire ants. Since the review of 2009, the fire ant infestation tripled from nearly 100,000h to over 350,000ha now.
The National Fire Ant Eradication Program is again up for review and if that review also recommends a program of ‘aggressive containment’ the concern is that the Queensland government will start to push the costs of containment back onto businesses and residents whose taxes have already contributed to the $400m of public money spent so far.
I would call on the relevant Ministers to stop the spread of this super-pest with a program of ‘aggressive containment’.
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