The strength of Australia’s national biosecurity network has received a boost with a ten-year commitment and $380 million in funding from the Commonwealth and State Governments to eradicate red imported fire ants from Queensland.
Following the Agriculture Ministers’ forum (AGMIN) in Melbourne, Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said that NSW will contribute over $60 million in funding to the National Program Ten Year Eradication Plan.
“At AGMIN, every State and Territory Government and the Commonwealth agreed it’s in the national interest to support a co-ordinated campaign to rid south-east Queensland of red imported fire ants over the next ten years,” Mr Blair said.
“These insidious pests have been a recurring problem in Queensland – now we have a long-term commitment from all partners to ensure they are eradicated once and for all.
“These ants are highly invasive and could potentially spread into NSW, so we need to invest resources now to stop them while we can.
“When fire ants were detected in Sydney in 2014, we saw the perfect example of Australia’s strong biosecurity system at work, with the swift containment and eradication of the pest with cross-jurisdictional support.
“As well as ridding Queensland of their infestation, this funding will further strengthen our national capability to respond to any future outbreaks in other areas.”
A Steering Committee has been established to provide strategic oversight and undertake regular monitoring and evaluation across the ten-year period.
An independent chair will be appointed later this year to ensure the program has clear guidance, support, transparency and accountability.
Anyone suspecting they have seen red imported fire ants should report it immediately to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.