Fire Ant Funding Needs Urgent Boost

A major whole-of-government response is urgently needed to stamp out red imported fire ants in Australia, according to a Senate Inquiry report handed down on Thursday.

Describing fire ants as one of Australia’s greatest biosecurity challenges, the report recommended state and federal governments provide uninterrupted funding to eradicate the pest within Australia by 2032.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin welcomed the findings of the inquiry, which confirmed the need for further funding and support to prevent the spread of the pests nationally.

“Fire ants should have been eradicated 20 years ago, but successive governments have failed to act quickly, decisively and effectively to stamp them out,” Mr Martin said.

“If these pests infest the whole nation, it is estimated that 83,100 Australians could need medical attention for fire ant attacks each year, while our agricultural industry could see its output reduce by up to 40 per cent.

“As well as being potentially deadly to humans, fire ants can sting native and domestic animals, harm livestock, ruin our natural environment and wreak havoc on fruit trees, beehives, pastures and crops.

“This is not just any another ant, and we have no choice but to eradicate these pests and fast if we want to spare our nation ongoing and serious pain.”

Moving forward, Mr Martin said it was critical both state and federal governments heeded the report’s recommendations and scaled up biosecurity funding and efforts to eradicate the ants before it was too late.

“We are calling on the state and federal governments to use every resource it has to stamp out these ants while we still can,” Mr Martin said.

“The potential costs to the nation are too high and the risk to human health is too great – we simply cannot sit by and let this insidious pest take over.

“If we don’t throw everything we can at fire ants to stop them in their tracks, we will be left with land and water that we cannot use to produce the food that feeds our nation, and a deadly pest that is changing our way of life in our communities.

“Clearly, this is not a fire drill, and there is no room for inaction or error when it comes to a threat as significant as this.”

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