Media: Biosecurity Queensland should have contained fire ants in 2001. Current baiting program will not work because infestation too big. QUT News

QUT News. Isla Stanich reports. A major fire ant baiting program is now underway in south-east Queensland. Dr Pam Swepson says Biosecurity Queensland should have focussed on containing the species in 2001. The Queensland government promised to eradicate fire ants to bring Commonwealth money into Queensland. The infestation is now ten times worse. The baiting program will not succeed because the infestation is too expansive. After spending close to $1b, governments will dump the fire ant problem back onto the public. Dr Swepson advises people to report fire ants and to complain about the ineffectiveness of the eradication program. 19th September 2018

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QUT News 19th September 2018

A major fire ant baiting program is now underway in south-east Queensland to stop the menacing creepy crawlies from putting the safety of the public at risk of burning stings. Isla Stanich reports.

IS        Since fire ants were first detected in Brisbane’s south-west in 2001, they’ve continued to sprawl into surrounding regions despite the $400m spent by Biosecurity Queensland to eradicate the species.

Writer and researcher Pam Swepson believes measures to tackle the fire ant problem have only made matters worse. She says Biosecurity Queensland should have focussed on containing the invasive species back in 2001 rather than promising to eradicate the ants for the sole purpose of injecting more money into Queensland.

PS       The result of not containing fire ants has made the infestation ten times worse. The Queensland government said ‘We’re not going to try and contain them. We’re going to promise to eradicate them because that brings Commonwealth money into Queensland.’

IS        Dr Swepson says she doesn’t believe the baiting program will be a success simply because the fire ant population is too expansive in south-east Queensland.

PS       It has never been possible to eradicate fire ants. We’ve been given another $400m to try and eradicate them. This is not going to happen.  We are going to end up spending close to a billion dollars of public money chasing the last fire ant for no good. The end result is going to be that governments will just throw up their hands and dump the whole problem back onto the public anyway.

IS        Secretary of Wacol and Centenary Catchment Group, Lenore Bracey, says well-established fire ant nests were first found on the nature conservation park in 2015, posing a threat to workers and visitors. The reported first nest was quickly treated by Biosecurity Queensland but other nests are continuing to be found.

LB       ‘We’re all a bit concerned now. We walk around looking for them everywhere.’

Dr Swepson advises any fire ant sighting should be reported to their local Council members. She also suggests people complain about the ineffectiveness of the eradication program in the hopes the program will be taken over by an organisation that can manage the issue properly.

Isla Stanich QUT News.