A professional gardener, very familiar with fire ants, had to drive to Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Program Head Quarters in Berrinba to report huge nests on footpaths in Browns Plains: after listening to a recorded message on the program’s phone-in number for 30 minutes. Browns Plains has been infested for at least sixteen years, been treated numerous times and is still heavily infested. Biosecurity Queensland relies on the public to report suspicious nests. Now with a backlog of 13,000 reports, Biosecurity Queensland is blocking public reports. When the professional gardener reported huge nests to managers at the Fire Ant Program Headquarters at 3.15pm on a Friday afternoon, he expected them to send a team to treat the nests immediately. But the car park was full of departmental and private cars at that time so the day. It looked like work had ceased for the day. Biosecurity Queensland sent a team to collect ant samples on the Monday and to mark the nests with paint: but no warning signs. A week later, they sent out another team to treat the nests: with no guarantee the treatment will kill the nests. Biosecurity Queensland has no evidence its hit and miss baiting regime kills fire ants and the evidence is injecting insecticide directly into nests causes them to split and spread. Fire ants are out of control because of Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetent Fire Ant Program. The infestation is now twelve times worse than when they were detected in 2001. Time for a Royal Commission. 27th July 2019
The first year of Biosecurity Queensland’s new Ten Year, 2017-27, $411m Fire Ant Eradication Program was an utter disaster. The plan was to increase the area being treated with three consecutive rounds of bait across the western edges of the infestation in the Lockyer Valley and the Scenic Rim and to spot treat persistent infestation in the eastern parts of the infestation in Ipswich, Logan, Redlands and Gold Coast cities.
Only 45% of the western infestation received two rounds of bait. None received the required three rounds. And Biosecurity Queensland virtually abandoned any attempt to suppress persistent nests in the vast bulk of the infestations in the east because it was being swamped by reports from the public.
Biosecurity Queensland relies on the public to report fire ant nests: and they have. 80% of new detections have been made by the public. But by the end of May 2019, Biosecurity Queensland had a backlog of 8764 untreated fire ant nests across Ipswich, Logan, Redlands and Gold Coast cities, up from 3039 in the middle of April. The backlog is now up to 13,000.
And it’s likely more people are wanting to report suspicious nests: but can’t. Biosecurity Queensland is now telling the public it is experiencing high volumes of reports and is asking for their patience. Members of the public say Biosecurity Queensland’s on-line reporting link is ‘a pain the arse… If the government can’t make an app that is easy to report this stuff then the public, like me, are just not going to bother.’
When a professional gardener, very familiar with fire ants, phoned Biosecurity Queensland to report more large, well-established fire ant nests on a footpath in Browns Plains, opposite the entrance to the Logan Recycling Market, he listened to a recorded message for ½ hour before giving up.
Browns Plains, in Logan City south of Brisbane, has been infested with fire ants for sixteen years and been treated numerous times. It is still heavily infested. In June 2018, I reported a dozen huge, fire ant nests, near a sporting facility in Browns Plains, with no signs to warn the public. Nothing has changed.
After listening to Biosecurity Queensland’s recorded message for reporting fire ant nests for ½ an hour, the professional gardener drove directly to Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Program Headquarters in Wayne Goss Drive at Berrinba in Logan City to report the nests. When he told the managers about being on hold for 30 minutes to report the nests, they just said ‘Oh.’
Biosecurity Queensland says it attempts to ‘progress’ fire ant reports within 21 days: but only those in public areas like schools, childcare centres, parks, footpaths and sporting fields. ‘Progress’ does not mean treat. It can take Biosecurity Queensland weeks to send one team to collect a sample from a suspicious nest, and if it is positive, more weeks to send a second team to treat the nest.
The professional gardener arrived at Fire Ant Program Headquarters at 3.15pm, assured the managers that the nests were indeed fire ant nests, and expected them to send a team out immediately to treat them. But the car park at Headquarters was full of departmental and private cars at 3.15pm on a Friday afternoon and it looked like all work had finished for the day.
On the following Monday, Biosecurity Queensland sent a team out to take samples from obvious fire ant nests and to mark them with paint: but no warning signs. A week later it sent out another team to treat the nests. But there is no guarantee that will do anything to reduce the heavy infestation of fire ants in Browns Plains.
Biosecurity Queensland has no evidence its hit and miss baiting regime kills fire ants and the evidence is injecting insecticide directly into nests is likely to cause the nests to split and spread.
Fire ants are out of control because of Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetent Fire Ant Program. The infestation is now twelve times worse than when they were detected in 2001. Time for a Royal Commission.