General Manager of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program, Graeme Dudgeon, admitted to the Beaudesert Times on 10th December 2019, that Biosecurity Queensland had failed to stop the movement of fire ant infested hay hundreds of kilometres outside its Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones.
Biosecurity Queensland has spent over $500m of public money so far and has an annual budget of over $40m. Nevertheless, Biosecurity Queensland has failed to control the movement of fire ant carriers in south-east Queensland because:
- Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones map is 18 months out of date.
- Biosecurity Queensland does not control the movement of fire ant carriers inside or outside Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones.
- Biosecurity Queensland abandoned its use of Approved Risk Management Plans to help businesses mitigate their risk of spreading fire ants.
- Biosecurity Queensland disbanded it large team of biosecurity inspectors who helped high risk businesses develop risk management plans, audited those plans and prosecuted those who did not comply.
Instead Biosecurity Queensland is:
- dumping its responsibility to contain the spread of fire ants onto businesses and the public: saying livestock owners have to make sure the hay they purchase for their animals is fire ant free.
- Threatening those who accidentally or carelessly move fire ants in fire ant friendly materials like soil, mulch, hay, turf or pot plants with fines of up to $5000 per offence. To my knowledge, Biosecurity Queensland has successfully prosecuted only two cases in seventeen years and potential offenders can legitimately claim they did not know if they were inside a Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone or not.
Biosecurity Queensland has failed to contain the spread of fire ants for seventeen years. Fire ants now infest over 500,000ha of south-east Queensland: over twelve times the area they infested in 2001.
Time for Royal Commission.
16 December, 2019