$130 million secured for major service contracts to target fire ants

The fight to eradicate fire ants from south east Queensland has been boosted with the approval of $130 million for major service contracts.

Speaking in Marburg near Ipswich today Acting Agriculture Minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced that the funding would allow the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program to enter into long-term contracts with bait, labour and air charter suppliers to boost the program’s treatment capacity.

“In July Australia’s state, territory and federal agriculture ministers agreed to fund a $411.4 million, 10-year eradication program that will effectively double previous efforts to get rid of this dangerous pest,”  Dr Lynham said.

“Securing long term deals with contractors will enable the program to operate more efficiently and effectively and this $130 million will mean we can do more to get to grips with fire ants in the immediate future”.

Dr Lynham said the funding would be allocated from the $411.4 million endorsed by the Agricultural Minister’s Forum and would result in more jobs across the south east, including Ipswich, in a range of sectors.

“Up to 140 additional staff will be recruited to help in the eradication efforts.” Dr Lynham said.

“Additional employment opportunities will also be provided through the air charter, bait manufacturing and supply contracts.

“The use of helicopters allows for much greater land area to be bait treated in a time and cost efficient manner than using our human resources. Large acreage properties are targeted for aerial treatment as it can deliver broad scale treatment.

“Securing these contracts allows the program to focus on treatment in order to rid Australia of this invasive pest species.”

Dr Lynham said the program would be commencing its bait treatment program in the outer western infestation areas of the Lockyer Valley, Ipswich, Somerset and Scenic Rim this month.

“This is the first of three bait treatment rounds being conducted over a nine month period for the coming summer,” he said.

“A further three rounds treatment will be applied during the warmer months of 2018-19 to complete the process.”

Dr Lynham said if left uncontrolled, the impacts of fire ants in Australia have been estimated to be between $5.3 billion and $45 billion over 20 to 70 years.

If you see any suspect ants or nests, please take a photograph and submit via our online report form at www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

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