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 should we be?’ Companies are now getting on with their businesses rather than waiting months for Biosecurity Queensland to treat nests they have reported. Mowing contractors are mowing over fire ant nests Biosecurity Queensland tagged months ago and still not treated. Naturally, fire ants keep spreading. In 2015, an independent review found that Biosecurity Queensland lacks the leadership and organisational capacity to protect Queenslanders from invasive pests and diseases: either now or in the foreseeable future. The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program will continue to fail while Biosecurity Queensland runs it. 10 October 2017
The Queensland public have well and truly played their part in trying to eradicate fire ants. A vigilant public is responsible for finding and reporting 70% of fire ant nests. But Biosecurity Queensland’s bungling alienates the public in depends on so much: rather than engaging them in the fight against fire ants.
When a member of the public does the right thing, and reports a suspicious ant nest, Biosecurity Queensland can take two weeks to collect a sample from it. That certainly annoys that member of the public. Then, when field staff come to collect a sample ant for testing, they are not allowed to tell the property owner if they think the nest is a fire ant nest or not, even though they have to spread bait around the nest if they think it is! No wonder the property owner gets even more annoyed!
Because the public have been so vigilant in finding and reporting fire ant nests, Biosecurity Queensland is now drowning in a back-log of over 2000 positive fire ant samples. But a sample of one fire ant can come from a single nest or from a cluster of nests, which is why it takes Biosecurity Queensland months to treat nests.
At the beginning of September, staff were told the backlog of new detections was so large it was not likely to be cleared until the end of October. So field staff, who collect ant samples, have been told not to give residents any unrealistic timeframe for when the infestation on their property will actually be treated. This most certain annoys and alienates the resident.
And residents get annoyed when they ask field staff inspecting or treating a neighbouring property to inspect theirs as well and field staff say they are not allowed to. And property owners get annoyed when they have to repeat their details to each successive field team that comes onto their property.
Instead of engaging the public in fighting fire ants, Biosecurity Queensland has alienated them. People think ‘if Biosecurity Queensland is not serious about fire ants, why should we be?’ Some companies are no longer calling back to find out about suspicious nests they have reported because they don’t have time to wait for Biosecurity Queensland to do something about them. And mowing contractors are mowing over fire ant nests that Biosecurity Queensland tagged months ago, and still not treated.
The Biosecurity Capability review of 2015 found that Biosecurity Queensland does not have the leadership and organisational capability needed to protect Queenslanders from invasive pests and diseases. The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program will continue to fail while Biosecurity Queensland runs it.