Ten year fire ant eradication plan

Agricultural ministers committed to a 10-year eradication program for red imported fire ants (RIFA) in south-east Queensland. The estimated cost of the proposed 10-year RIFA eradication plan is $380 million (indexed at $411.4 million), of which the Australian Government will pay half.

Join the ant hunt! You can help with the eradication effort by reporting any suspicious ants to 1800 084 881.

Agricultural Ministers welcomed a further ten year commitment, by all governments, in a shared effort to eradicate red imported fire ants (RIFA) in south-east Queensland.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, welcomed the agreement, made at the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) meeting in Melbourne, where he was represented by Assistant Minister Anne Ruston.

“Today’s additional ten year agreement by all governments is a successful outcome and commits an estimated further $380 million to the plan – or $411.4 million on an indexed basis – following sixteen years of shared eradication and containment efforts,” Minister Joyce said.

“I am now calling on the Queensland Government to deliver the goods to eradicate this insidious pest once and for all and ensure this investment is wise money spent.

“A permanent steering committee will be established to oversee the program and provide increased governance and transparency, with an independent chair to be appointed by the National Biosecurity Committee later this year.

Detector dogs were used to eradicate fire ants from Gladstone.

“Reports from the public have accounted for up to 70 per cent of new detections over the last four years, and the steering committee will ensure that community and stakeholder engagement continues to be an important part of the program.

“In the US state of Texas alone, Red Imported Fire Ants are estimated to cost US$1.2 billion each year in control, damage repair and medical care and there have been more than 85 deaths from anaphylactic shock as a result of stings.

“Based on the rate of natural spread in the United States, without these efforts, RIFA could potentially have spread past Sydney in the south and Rockhampton in the north.

“We know if fire-ants become established in this area, it won’t just be the loss to the environment and agriculture, but also the loss of lives, and the change in our recreational standard of living.”

Agriculture Ministers also welcomed the findings of the review into the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, which placed a strong emphasis on trade access and environmental biosecurity.

Red imported fire ant nest

“I welcome the commitment by all governments to work together to build a national system that can meet the challenges of the future.  This report offers an important road map,” Minister Joyce said.

“Our efforts will deliver particular benefits for our primary producers, the farmers and fishers who work every day to put food our tables and clothes on our back.”

More information

Reproduced from a media release by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Click here to read more about fire ants and download a Yard Check Report

Map of fire ant biosecurity zones (pdf file, external link Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)

Travellers map showing three red imported fire ant biosecurity zones around Brisbane (internal link)