The NSW government is no longer accepting accredited potted plants from nurseries operating inside Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Zones. A huge impact on a huge number of nurseries operating in the 384 suburbs and parts of another 127 suburbs in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones in south-east Queensland. Also, Biosecurity Queensland admits it does not know if other States and Territories are making the same changes. Is the New Wales government losing confidence in Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Fiasco? The fire ant infestation has blown out from 40,000ha to 600,000ha in 19 years and is nudging the Gold Coast/New South Wales border, if they haven’t breached it already. The New South Wales government if the second biggest funder of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program, run by Biosecurity Queensland that has wasted $600m of public money so far. If the New South Wales government pulls its funding, that could spell the end of the Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Fiasco. Time for a Royal Commission to hold those responsible for the Fire Ant Fiasco to account. 22nd October 2020
On 2nd October 2020, Biosecurity Queensland wrote to all nursery operators within the Plant Quarantine Zones for Red Imported Fire Ants in South East Queensland to advise them that the New South Wales government is no longer accepting accredited potted plants from fire ant zones in south-east Queensland into markets in New South Wales.
They said, ‘On 3 September 2020, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI) advised the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) of their intention to amend their entry conditions for RIFA (Red Imported Fire Ant) carriers, i.e. potted plant, into NSW. These changes will come into effect on 2 November 2020.’
This means that potted plants that meet current Interstate Certification Assurance, ICA-40, requirements will no longer gain market access in NSW.
This will have a huge impact on the large number of accredited nurseries that operate in the 384 suburbs that are fully inside Biosecurity Queensland’s Interstate Plant Quarantine (Red Imported Fire Ant) Zone in South East Queensland and the 127 suburbs that are partially inside the zone.
As of 1st October 2020, the Plant Quarantine Zone for fire ants covered parts of the Moreton Bay Regional Council area including Kallangur, Petrie and Strathpine, almost all of Brisbane City, all of Redland City, almost all of Logan City, Gold Coast City south to Southport, large parts of the Scenic Rim Regional area including Beaudesert and Bromelton, parts of the Lockyer Valley Regional Area including Laidley and parts of the Somerset Regional Area including Lowood and Fernvale.
Further, Biosecurity Queensland advised nursery operators who wished to consign accredited potted plants to other States and Territories to check if those jurisdictions are still accepting ICA-40 requirements for market access, because they, Biosecurity Queensland, do not know! Just what IS their job???
Biosecurity Queensland abandoned its responsibility for controlling the main cause of fire ant spread – human assisted movement – when it disbanded its large team of biosecurity inspectors who identified and worked with high risk businesses to develop risk management plans and audited those plans.
Instead Biosecurity Queensland imposed a General Biosecurity Obligation, under the Biosecurity Act 2014, on the public and industry to take all reasonable precautions to ensure they don’t spread fire ants.
Industry representatives at a fire ant forum in May 2018 said they were happy to accept their responsibilities if Biosecurity Queensland accepted its own by:
Is the New South Wales government now losing confidence in Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Fiasco?
The fire ant infestation has blown out from 40,000ha to 600,000ha in nineteen years and is now nudging the Gold Coast/New South Wales border, if they haven’t breached it already.
The New South Wales government is the second biggest funder of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. The Commonwealth government contributes 50%. New South Wales contributes 17%. Queensland contributes just 10%. Biosecurity Queensland has wasted over $600m of public money so far.
If New South Wales pulls its funding, that could mean the end of Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Fiasco.
If so, it is likely Biosecurity Queensland will continue to dump all responsibility for the fire ant problem onto the public. The public are already responsible for containing the spread of fire ants, for detecting new infestations, and now Biosecurity Queensland is dumping the responsibility for treating fire ant nests onto the public.
Time for a Royal Commission to hold all Queensland Minsters for Agriculture and all program oversight committees since 2001 to account for wasting $600m of public money on a fire ant infestation that has blown out from 40,000ha to 600,000ha in nineteen years.