Writings: Failed! Biosecurity Queensland's $411.4m 10 Year Fire Ant Eradication Plan (2017-27) says Lockyer Valley to be fire ant free in 2025, but ants keep spreading. Time for a Royal Commission.

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 In ‘Under the Microscope – Fire Ant News’ in April 2020, Biosecurity Queensland said its current treatment season, from September 2019 to June 2020, is on track. Not according to Biosecurity Queensland’s $411.4m ‘Ten Year Eradication Plan, National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program, South East Queensland, 2017-18 to 2026-27.’

The plan specified a rolling program of two years of treatment followed by two years of surveillance and compliance activities, starting on the western edge near Gatton and rolling east towards Moreton Bay in subsequent years. The targets for the plan are:

  • the Lockyer Valley and the Scenic Rim areas to be 95% clear of fire ants by 2023 and 100% clear by 2025
  • Ipswich City and the Somerset region to be 95% clear of fire ants by 2025 and 100% clear by 2027
  • Brisbane and Logan cities to be 95% clear of fire ants by 2027
  • But by 2027, Moreton Bay, Redlands and Gold Coast cities would still be under surveillance.

According to Biosecurity Queensland’s map of April 2020, ‘Interstate Plant Quarantine Zone Red Imported Fire Ants, south-east Queensland’, Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant program is NOT on track. Since 2017, fire ants have spread:

  • further south-west into the Scenic Rim area to Teviotville
  • further north to Lowood in the Somerset region.
  • further east to include, again, the Brisbane Airport and the Port of Brisbane, and
  • further south on the Gold Coast to within 10km of the New South Wales border.

Biosecurity Queensland’s operations map for August 2019 shows it has abandoned its rolling program of treatment followed by surveillance. Biosecurity Queensland has no surveillance strategy now, even though independent experts say Biosecurity Queensland can’t kill fire ants because it can’t find them. Biosecurity Queensland now plans to treat over 500,000ha of south-east Queensland to either kills fire ants or just suppress them. That was feasible in 2002 when the infestation covered 40,0000ha – impossible now.  

In November 2017, Biosecurity Queensland said the purpose of the $411.4m Ten Year Fire Ant Eradication Program 2017-2027, was to eradicate fire ants. 

In April 2020, Biosecurity Queensland said the purpose of the program is ‘to reduce the size of the infestation.’

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program is a total failure. From 2002 to 2019 Biosecurity Queensland has wasted over $500,000 of public money and inflicted a worsening fire ant infestation on the public of south-east Queensland.

Time for a Royal Commission to hold Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and the Steering Committee of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program to account.

8th May 2020