More job security for fire ant frontline

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities The Honourable Mark Furner

More job security for fire ant frontline

Click here for grabs.

  • 150 frontline fire ant contract positions to be incorporated into the public sector.
  • Greater job security and benefits for workers fighting fire ants
  • Queensland continues to lead as world experts in fire ant eradication.

The Albanese and Miles governments are upping the ante in the fight against the Red Imported Fire Ant, with the delivery of 150 frontline public sector positions to combat the invasive pest.

Public sector status for 150 positions, which previously would have been delivered through contract and labour hire arrangements, will ensure the National Fire Ant Eradication Program continues to retain and attract the best workers in field-based work and increased compliance monitoring.

In mid-2023 the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments unanimously supported a new fire ant response plan, which aims to eradicate fire ants from Australia.

The $600 million plan continues the fire ant eradication program for another four years, which includes a record $300 million contribution from the Albanese Labor Government.

This is on top of $411 million already invested between Federal, State and Territory governments in fire ant eradication efforts in the past six years.

As the key jurisdiction in the fire ant fight, the Queensland Government has provided $37.5 million to suppress fire ants in areas awaiting eradication treatment.

This is in addition to the $61 million already committed to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program over the next four years.

The new plan is already at work and focuses on strengthening containment and compliance, and intensifying program-led and community treatment.

The fire ant eradication treatment area forms a horseshoe around the Queensland infestation—spanning from Moreton Bay in the north, west to the Lockyer Valley, and south to the Gold Coast near the New South Wales border.

As fire ants are cleared from areas within the eradication area, treatment will move progressively inwards until all areas are cleared and fire ants are eradicated for good.

Australia is the only country focused on eradication with the approach informed by a scientific advisory group consisting of international experts in their respective fields.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of Australia Murray Watt:

“By strengthening the front line of eradication, we can continue the important fight against fire ants.

“Eradicating fire ants is far from easy, but Australia and the National Fire Ant Eradication Program has shown success in limiting the spread.

“Without the National Fire Ant Eradication Program fire ants would now infest an area from Bowen in the north, west to Longreach and south to Canberra.

“Because of the significant new funding that governments have provided, the program has the flexibility to quickly respond and eradicate one-off detections outside the treatment area, like what occurred at Murwillumbah and Wardell in far north NSW in recent times.

“By uniting to deliver a stronger workforce we can stop this invasive pest once and for all.

“The decisive action by the Albanese Labor Government contrasts with the National Party, whose leader David Littleproud said in November that Queensland “shouldn’t be given any more money” to tackle this insidious pest.

“This follows Mr Littleproud’s decision to cut fire ant funding when he was Agriculture Minister.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:

“The National Fire Ant Eradication Program is globally recognised and widely considered among fire ant experts to be world-class and leading the way.

“The LNP decimated this program, cutting 45 frontline workers and slashing $1.1 million from the program.

“We simply can’t risk the program’s success should the LNP get into power again.

“Fire ant teams are out in the community doing crucial work and we must continue supporting this workforce as they deliver the new fire ant response plan.

“Giving more workers public sector status will ensure the fire ant program retains and attracts skilled workers who can get on with the job of eradicating fire ants.

“We cannot underestimate the impact fire ants can have on our outdoor way of life, agriculture industries, human health, economy and environment.

“This boost demonstrates once again that the Queensland Government is fully committed to eliminating fire ants from Australia.”

Quotes attributable to AWU Queensland secretary Stacey Schinnerl:

“Nobody knows more about the existential risk of the fire ant threat than frontline workers in the National Fire Ant Eradication Program.

“Over the past year, AWU members on the frontline have been campaigning for greater job security in the program.

“This change will ensure that existing workers who have been engaged on temporary contracts for a long period of time will be able to apply for a public sector role in the program, and can access the Queensland’s Government public sector entitlements.

“This is the kind of announcement that changes lives – quality public sector conditions deliver benefits like access to annual leave, better job security and easier access to bank loans.

“Since our members came to Minister Furner with this issue last year, he has been relentless in fighting to expand the Program – I’d like to thank Minister Furner and Minister Watt for making this a reality.”

/Public Release. View in full here.