Writings: 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 some time. Most likely, they got there by people bringing them in in loads of fire ant friendly materials like soil, mulch, compost and pot plants and because Biosecurity Queensland failed to implemented any proper movement controls to prevent people from carelessly or accidentally moving fire ants.

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Bracken Ridge nudges the Moreton Bay Regional Council area, an area, so far, free of fire ants. Fire ants are already in Council areas south and west of Brisbane: Gold Coast City Council, Logan City Council, Ipswich City Council, Redland City Council, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council and Scenic Rim Regional Council. Fire ants are now spreading north as well.

Biosecurity Queensland failed to implement movement controls and a program of ‘aggressive containment’ that fire ant experts from the USA advised right at the beginning in 2001. Without proper movement controls and ‘aggressive containment’ they said, there was little chance that Biosecurity Queensland would eradicate fire ants or stop them spreading.

Biosecurity Queensland has now spent more than $350m of public money with the result that fire ants now infest an area ten times what is was at the beginning: 31,277ha in early 2002 to 411,500ha now.  This is because Biosecurity Queensland failed to stop the spread of fire ants with a program of movement controls that will give ‘aggressive containment.’

The Queensland Government is now dumping the problem of the uncontrolled spread of fire ants back onto the public. The new Biosecurity Act, which came into effect on the 1st July this year, allows the government to appoint private biosecurity inspectors, accreditors and auditors to deliver services for containing the spread of fire ants and to charge the public for services. These are services that Biosecurity Queensland failed to provide with $350m of public money.