In 2001, fire ant experts from the USA said if the Queensland Government neither eradicated fire ants nor contained their spread, the only option left was self-management: dumping the costs, risks and responsibility to manage the on-going fire ant infestation onto the public.
Since 2001, the fire ant infestation has blown out from 40,000ha to over 650,000ha and continues to spread. Areas that were infested in 2001 remain infested. The evidence is clear: Biosecurity Queensland has neither eradicated fire ants nor contained their spread.
After wasting $600m of public money, Biosecurity Queensland is now dumping the risks and responsibility to manage the ongoing fire ant infestation onto the public through Community Fire Ant Treatment Programs which are dangerous, ineffective and illegal.
In a blaze of publicity, in December 2020, Biosecurity Queensland launched its first Community Treatment Program in Yarrabilba, a newly developed residential estate 45 minutes drive south of Brisbane after a massive fire ant infestation had been found in Yarrabilba State Secondary College in March. Residents had to buy their own insecticide from Bunnings. In July 2021 Biosecurity Queensland still lists Yarrabilba as an infested area.
At the beginning of May, in a more secretive way via a closed Facebook group, Biosecurity Queensland invited residents, homeowners and renters on Tamborine Mountain to take part in the Tamborine Mountain Community Fire Ant Treatment Blitz with the false promise: ‘Fire ants…let’s take them out of Tamborine Mountain.’ They wrapped up the project at the end of May after handing out 600 free shakers of fire ant bait.
The Yarrabilba and Tamborine Mountain Community Fire Ant Treatment Projects are dangerous, ineffective and illegal.
In answer to the frequently asked question ‘Can I treat the (fire ant) nest myself?’ Biosecurity Queensland says:
‘Fire ants are category one restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014…. Destruction of fire ant nests should only be administered by a qualified Biosecurity Queensland authorised officer. Treating the nest yourself is not recommended as this will likely be ineffective and result in the colony evacuating the queen and relocating to another area. There is also significant risk to your safety – fire ants are very aggressive and swarm when their nest is disturbed. Each ant can inflict repeated stings that are extremely painful, and in some cases can result in anaphylactic shock.’
The Queensland Pest Management Act 2001 also makes it illegal for the public to treat fire ant nests. The Act aims to protect the public from health risks associate with pest control activities and the adverse results of the ineffective control of pests by establishing a licensing regime to ensure that such activities are carried out by a pest management technician. The public is only permitted to use household pesticides ordinarily available in retail stores where groceries are sold.
In answer to another frequently asked question, ‘What does the treatment involve? Biosecurity Queensland says bait treatment needs to occur three times each year for two years during the summer months when the ants are actively foraging. A single application of bait in late autumn, over a fraction of the properties on Tamborine Mountain is likely to be simply throwing more good bait and more good money after bad.
Biosecurity Queensland has neither eradicated the fire ant infestation nor contained its spread. Biosecurity Queensland is now dumping the problem of treating fire ants onto the public with dangerous, ineffective and illegal Community Fire Ant Treatment Programs. Time for a Royal Commission.
27th October 2021