Media & News

21 Nov 2017

Blowing the whistle on Biosecurity Queensland’s misleading fire ant program reports: they over-state success and don’t report serious problems. Problems remain.

In March 2003, I complained to the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) that the Department of Primary Industries’ reports on the fire ant program (DPI, now home to Biosecurity Queensland), prepared for the Commonwealth and other States governments that fund the program, over-state the program’s success and do not report serious pro...

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05 Nov 2017

Will new leaders be the new brooms that save Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant fiasco or will incumbent, incompetent managers continue to run the fire ant program?

For the first time in 17 years, Biosecurity Queensland is recruiting, or being forced to recruit, properly qualified people to run the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. Will two new leaders be the new brooms that can save Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant fiasco? Fire ants are out of control and the infestation is now ten ti...

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24 Oct 2017

Biosecurity Queensland can’t prove it is eradicating fire ants and can’t prove it has not wasted $400m of public money

In March 2017 the Queensland Audit Office found, just as multiple reviews of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (fire ant program) have found, Biosecurity Queensland cannot ‘always demonstrate it has successfully achieved the ultimate aims’ of its programs because Biosecurity Queensland does not capture adequate, reliable an...

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17 Oct 2017

Biosecurity Queensland’s hit and miss fire ant treatment program for 2017-18 is doomed to fail

Since 2001, Biosecurity Queensland has been repeatedly told the only way to eradicate fire ants is to totally and repeatedly blanket the entire infestation in low toxic bait: and the cheapest, quickest most effective way is by helicopter. For 17 years, Biosecurity Queensland’s treatment program has been expensive, slow, hit and miss and ineffecti...

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10 Oct 2017

Biosecurity Queensland’s bungled fire ant program is alienating the public rather than engaging it in the fight against fire ants.

The public is doing its bit to fight fire ants: detecting 70% of fire ant nests. But bungling Biosecurity Queensland alienates the public because it takes weeks to inspect suspicious nests and then months treat fire ant nests. Annoyed and alienated residents and businesses think ‘If Biosecurity Queensland is not serious about fire ants, why shoul...

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22 Sep 2017

Biosecurity Queensland doubles effort to fight fire ants but problem is ten times worse. Again, too little, too late.

Having wasted $400m of public money on a failed fire ant program that has seen the infestation get ten times worse, Biosecurity Queensland is desperate keep the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments funding the program. Biosecurity Queensland has promise to double its efforts, which are again, too little too late: likely to waste m...

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16 Sep 2017

Biosecurity Queensland's fire ant program budget blow-out: from $123.4m for 5 years to $800m for 26 years.

The fire ant eradication program has been well-funded. The original plan was for five years and to cost $123.4. It has now blown out to a sixteen years and cost $400m: a lot of public money. The fire ant infestation is now ten times worse and Biosecurity Queensland blames a lack of funding. The Biosecurity Capability Review of 2015 and the science ...

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02 Sep 2017

Hundreds of fire ant nests. Public losing confidence in Biosecurity Queensland

A vigilant public in south east Queensland is reporting hundreds of fire ant nests and Biosecurity Queensland is taking months to respond. The public is giving up on Biosecurity Queensland and taking matter into their own hands: risking their own safety and likely making the infestation worse. 2nd September 2017

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26 Aug 2017

Fire ants now in Deagon: yet another breach of Biosecurity Queensland's Fire Ant Zone Lines

Fire ants are breaching Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Zone lines at an alarming rate. Fire ants are now in Deagon, Bracken Ridge, Upper Kedron, Camp Mountain, Beerwah and Lowood: all way outside fire ant containment lines because Biosecurity Queensland cannot stop fire ants spreading. 26 August 2017 Update: 28th August 2017 Fire ants fo...

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08 Aug 2017

Fire ants found in another new housing estate: in Lowood, way outside Biosecurity Queensland's fire ant zone

Another new housing estate in south-east Queensland has been found to be infested with fire ants, threatening the safety of residents. Ten fire ant nests were found in a new housing estate in Lowood last week: well into the Somerset Regional Council area and many kilometres from Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant boundary. Fire ants have also ...

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31 Jul 2017

Will Biosecurity Queensland bluff the new fire ant oversight committee? Likely, without public scrutiny too.

The Australian Agriculture Ministers’ Forum has agreed to extend the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program in south-east Queensland by another ten years at the cost of another $400m: on top of the $400m Biosecurity Queensland has wasted over the past sixteen years with the result the infestation is now ten times worse than when fire ...

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17 Jul 2017

Biosecurity Queensland's Fire Ant Fiasco and Cover-up.

Multiple independent reviews of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program have said that Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant treatment does not work, that fire ants are spreading faster than Biosecurity Queensland can find them and have recommended that Biosecurity Queensland implement an aggressive containment program. They haven’t...

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04 Jul 2017

Fire ants in seven new housing estates this year, or more. Biosecurity Queensland has failed.

In May, I reported that fire ants were infesting four new housing estates in south-east Queensland: in Upper Kedron, Yarrabilba, Ripley and Pimpama. Since then, fire ants have been found in a new housing estate in Jimboomba in the Logan area, in a new estate in Raceview in the Ipswich area and in a new housing estate in Beerwah; the first to be ...

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28 Jun 2017

Fire ants now in Moreton Bay area. Biosecurity Queensland has failed.

Because of Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetence, fire ants have now invaded the Moreton Bay Regional Council area north of Brisbane: the third largest local government area in Queensland after Brisbane and the Gold Coast which are already infested with fire ants. Most of south-east Queensland is now infested with fire ants. On 6th June, Biose...

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23 Jun 2017

Fire ants now in East Brisbane parks. Biosecurity Queensland has failed.

Fire ants are now infesting parks in the suburb of East Brisbane: putting the safety of young children at risk. Fire ants have been found in heritage listed Mowbray Park, on the bank of the Brisbane River, and in nearby Real Park. Both parks have picnic areas and children’s playgrounds: particularly attractive places for fire ants to nests. ...

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12 Jun 2017

Biosecurity Queensland's fire ant map is out of date. Fire ants are out of control.

Fire ants are out of control: moving into previously fire ant free suburbs and tightening their grip on suburbs they have already invaded. But Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant map is nearly a year out of date. Is Biosecurity Queensland trying to cover-up this disaster and its own incompetence? In August 2015, 259 suburbs in the Brisbane, Gold...

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04 Jun 2017

Fire ant nests are popping up near Rosewood - again! Biosecurity Queensland has failed.

As the weather gets cooler, fire ants build mounts above their nests to soak up the warmth of the sun. Fire ant mounds are now popping up in grazing land and along the sides of major roads near the township of Rosewood in south-east Queensland. Rosewood is within the Ipswich City Council local government area, and like most of Ipswich, has been in...

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23 May 2017

Fire ant nests exploding in new housing estates. Biosecurity Queensland has abrogated its responsibility.

There is an explosion of fire ant nests in new housing estates on the edge of the Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone: threatening the safety and well-being of the residents and poised to spread even further. People carelessly or accidentally moving fire ants in truck-loads of soil, mulch, compost, hay or potted plants is the most common cause of fire ant...

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13 May 2017

Fire ants have infested Brisbane's south-west for 16 years. Biosecurity Queensland has failed.

Fire ants were first detected around Brisbane in 2001 in two locations: one in the north east, centred on the Port of Brisbane: the second and largest spread over suburbs in Brisbane’s south-west. The Port of Brisbane is again infested after a few years of being fire-ant free. Fire ants never left the suburbs in Brisbane’s south-west: inclu...

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03 May 2017

Hundreds and hundreds of fire ant nests. Biosecurity Queensland has lost control.

Hundreds and hundreds of fire ant nests on the edges of the fire ant infestation that covers more than 400,000ha of south-east Queensland are poised to spread the infestation even further. Fire ants are out of control because Biosecurity Queensland cannot kill them or stop them spreading. In July, the Australian Agriculture Ministers Council wi...

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19 Apr 2017

Biosecurity Queensland gets $900,000 to pitch a new fire ant program

Queensland Treasury has given Biosecurity Queensland nearly $1m to make a pitch for another $400m for a new Ten Year Fire Ant Eradication Plan to replace the Failed Fifteen Year Fire Ant Eradication Program. Biosecurity Queensland has spent $400m of public money over the past fifteen years chasing fire ants: with the result that fire ants are no...

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07 Apr 2017

Crunch time for Biosecurity Queensland's failed fire ant program

The Australian Agriculture Ministers will meet soon to decide the future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. Over fifteen years, Biosecurity Queensland has spent $400m of public money on a failed chase after the last fire ant. Fire ants now infest an area ten times bigger than when they were first detected in south-east Quee...

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22 Mar 2017

No public scrutiny of Biosecurity Queensland's failing fire ant program

Even with $400m of public money, Biosecurity Queensland has failed to stop the spread of deadly fire ants. But the public is not allowed to know how Biosecurity Queensland spent so much public money for so little public good. Biosecurity Queensland tells the public that its fire ant program is ‘on track’ to eradicate fire ants: that it has ...

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08 Feb 2017

Commonwealth oversight of the fire ant program: poor.

Biosecurity Queensland, a Queensland government agency, has wasted $400m of public money trying to find and kill fire ants. Fire ant now infest an area over 400,000ha: ten times bigger than it was in 2002. Clearly, Biosecurity Queensland is incapable of managing the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. The fire ant program is a n...

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21 Jan 2017

Where are fire ants: really?

A vigilant Queensland public has found 60%-70% of the fire ants we know about so far. But, to remain vigilant, the public needs to now just where fire ants are, or are likely to be. But Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Restricted Area maps, now covering an area of 410,000ha, ten times more than in the beginning, are more about convincing the...

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05 Jan 2017

Did Biosecurity Queensland managers write their own fire ant program review?

It’s hard not to believe that they didn’t. Biosecurity Queensland has spent about $400m of public money trying to eradicate a fire ant infestation that is now ten times what it was in 2002. In 2015, the Australian Agricultural Ministers’ Forum commissioned a fifth independent scientific review of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradic...

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13 Dec 2016

Inside story: How Ipswich became infested by killer ants - Queensland Times

Bungling by successive Queensland governments has seen the war on the red fire ant lost and hundreds of millions of dollars wasted. Dr Pam Swepson, who worked on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program from its inception in 2002 for three years, has told the QT “the war against fire ants was lost at the beginning” and continu...

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12 Dec 2016

Fire ant interview with Steve Austin ABC612 8th December 2016

A report has estimated that if fire ants are not wiped out in Australia they could be responsible for up to 3000 anaphylactic reactions each year. An independent review, or a supposedly independent review, has warned that the window of opportunity to eradicate the red fire ant is closing. You would know that this pest was imported into Queensland i...

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29 Nov 2016

Queensland lost the war on fire ants in June 2001

The Science Manager of Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant program warned in October 2016, that Australia could lose the war against the super-pest, red imported fire ants, if the Commonwealth did not give the program more money. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/emr.12238/pdf With his long association with the Queensland fire ant pr...

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19 Nov 2016

Fire ant fact check: Two incursions eradicated. Really?

In January 2016, the Science Manager of Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Program wrote that the program had eradicated two incursions of the Red Imported Fire Ant. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/emr.12197/full Just six months later, the Port of Brisbane, Queensland’s largest port and the site of one of those incursions, was ...

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31 Oct 2016

Fire ants are out of control: Biosecurity Queensland has no fire ant controls

October 2016 Fire ants now infest more than 400,000ha of south-east Queensland: an area more than ten times what it was when they were first found around Brisbane in 2001. The Queensland Government has spent $350m of public funds over fourteen years and fire ants are now out of control. Fire ants spread most rapidly when people carelessly or...

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25 Oct 2016

'Fire ant numbers said to be out of control' Queensland Country Life

Queensland Country Life journalist Lucy Ziesemer wrote on 21 September 2016: 'Debate flares: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries remains adamant its fire ant eradication program is on track. Readers would be forgiven for expressing surprise and disbelief at the notion of Queensland's fire ant infestation being out of control, ...

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18 Oct 2016

Fire ants out of control: more nests found in last year than previous years

‘There have been more fire ant nests found in the last 12 months than in previous years,’ a former fire ant program field assistant has told me. Another former field assistant told me ‘I have observed farms….in the Alberton area …which previously had low infestations, now have fifty plus nests’ and ‘In Purga...one property had fift...

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03 Oct 2016

Fire ants out of control: back in Brookfield

Brookfield, a leafy semi-rural suburb in Brisbane’s west, has been off the Fire Ant Restricted Area maps for many years. But it is back on them again now. In September this year owners of a landscape business in Brookfield did the right thing and reported suspicious ants to Biosecurity Queensland. Biosecurity Queensland collected some samples ...

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01 Oct 2016

Fire ants out of control: now in Bracken Ridge.

Large fire ant nests have been found in Bracken Ridge, a suburb on Brisbane’s northern edge and more than ten kilometres from the nearest fire ant nests at the Brisbane Airport: more evidence that fire ants are out of control. Fire ant nests get bigger over time. Large nests in Bracken Ridge mean that fire ants have been there, undetected, for...

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15 Sep 2016

Biosecurity Qld sacks fire ant program whistle-blower

In August, Biosecurity Queensland sacked a diligent fire ant program field assistant. His sin was to call out program managers’ unfair treatment of workers and their practices of exposing workers to health risks – one time too many. Update: 8th December 2016: Since the whistle-blower was sacked, it looks like the old practices of flagrantly ...

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15 Aug 2016

Interview with Steve Austin, ABC 612, Brisbane 18 July 2016

Steve Austin: How do you feel about spending $350m to solve a problem only to see it become ten times worse. That’s what the State Government has done with public money for the Fire Ant Eradication Program. Obviously, they haven’t eradicated anything. Today, Estimates hearings commence at State Parliament: the means by which MPs examine how pub...

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24 Jul 2016

Fire Ant Fiasco Fact Check

On 19th July 2016, Steve Austin, ABC 612, interviewed Ms Sarah Corcoran, Director of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program about why the eradication program has been such a failure. The Fire Ant Eradication Program is managed by Biosecurity Queensland which is part of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. ...

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17 Jul 2016

Fire Ant Fiasco: ignore the science, waste public money, dump the consequences back onto the public

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program, run by the Queensland Government with national funding, is a fiasco. The Queensland Government, from both sides of politics, has spent $350m of public money over fifteen years on hundreds of staff and thousands of tonnes of bait. The fire ant infestation is now ten times worse than it was when...

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08 Jul 2016

Fire ants are coming back!

The Queensland Government is claiming it can eradicate fire ants while fire ants are re-infesting ‘fire ant free’ zones. In 2001, there were two separate fire ant infestations around Brisbane: one in some south-western suburbs and another in some north-east suburbs, including the Port of Brisbane and the Brisbane Airport. In 2012, the Queen...

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04 Jul 2016

Queensland Government dumps the fire ant problem onto the public

Having failed to stop the spread of fire ants into 280 suburbs covering more than 350,000ha of south-east Queensland, the Queensland government is now dumping the fire ant problem onto the public. On 1 July 2016, the new Biosecurity Act 2014 came into effect. It creates a ‘General Biosecurity Obligation’ which means that people and organisat...

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24 Jun 2016

Searching for fire ants by helicopter: remote sensing or remote chance?

In 2009, with fire ants still marching across south-east Queensland, Professor Roush from the University of Melbourne and his team reviewed the fire ant program. They stated the obvious when they said the Queensland Government was not eradicating fire ants because they couldn’t find them and they needed to do something different. Incredibly, ...

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20 Jun 2016

Creating a fire ant biosecurity industry?

Has the Queensland government, of both political persuasions, been creating the conditions for a new industry of private fire ant bio-security consultants: consultants to charge Queensland businesses and residents for services the State government has failed to deliver, with more than $350m of public money, over the past fifteen years?

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12 Jun 2016

Fire Ant Program in SEQ in Limbo

The Fire Ant Program in SEQ is in Limbo: Eradicate, contain, manage? Who pays? The Commonwealth Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) has yet to make a decision on the future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication (RIFA) Program in South East Queensland (the Program), the Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Leanne Dona...

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07 Jun 2016

Biosecurity Queensland: incapable now and in the future

In September 2015, an independent panel found that Biosecurity Queensland, a division of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAFF), is incapable of protecting Queensland’s economy, environment and way of life from the threats of invasive pests and diseases: both now and in the foreseeable future. Biosecurity Queensland was created in ...

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12 Apr 2016

Fire ant Fiasco

Fire ants are on the march….

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11 Apr 2016

ABC Fire Ants Interview

An interview with Terri Begley from ABC Radio about fireant issues in Queensland.

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05 Apr 2016

$250 million fire ant eradication program a failure as pest spreads through south-east Queensland

The war against deadly fire ants could be lost amid claims the $250 million program to eradicate the pest has been badly mismanaged.

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05 Apr 2016

Queensland launched a war against the fire ant invasion, but 12 years later, they’re still on the march

Queensland launched a war against the fire ant invasion, but 12 years later, they’re still on the march.

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17 Feb 2016

New Swepson Website

I am very pleased to announce the launch of my new website.

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