Vote 1: Stop invasive species in Queensland

Feral Herald |
On its own the yellow crazy ant may not seem so scary, but when they link up to form super colonies, as they have done near Cairns, they can strip the forest of wildlife. Photo: David Wilson
On its own the yellow crazy ant may not seem so scary, but when they link up to form super colonies, as they have done near Cairns, they can strip the forest of wildlife. Photo: David Wilson

Along with land clearing, invasive species are the major threat to wildlife in Queensland. Yet biosecurity has been missing from Queensland election headlines.

We’ll rectify this by giving you our Queensland election guide.

High stakes

Queensland is ground zero in the battle to keep Australia free of harmful new invaders.

At stake are not only the iconic wet topics rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef but possibly all wildlife and any natural place you love and care for.

It is the state with the highest number of recently established invasive species – from white spot in prawns to fire ants, to Asian honeybees. The stream of new invaders has generated major concerns about the flaws in our biosecurity system.

This was also a focus of concern to the independent national biosecurity review – a 2016-17 review with far-reaching recommendations involving all levels of government. Queensland has an important role in delivering these recommendations.

To deduce what the major and minor parties may do if elected we reviewed their pre-election policies, their actions when in government (for Labor and the LNP) and their responses to our questionnaire covering ten subject areas.


We are pleased to report that compared to past years the Greens and Labor are developing more detailed policies in biosecurity.

Labor has committed to continuing its reforms by implementing the recommendations of the state’s biosecurity capability review, developing the proposed state biosecurity strategy, and increasing support for managing yellow crazy ants and the weed Koster’s curse.

Labor has partly reversed biosecurity funding cuts made prior to it coming into office in 2015. The directions are promising, particularly the collaborative model used, but missing is a strong program to address environmental biosecurity priorities (to elevate nature conservation to receive equal treatment to agricultural protection) and support community involvement in biosecurity.

The standout Greens policy is their support for the creation of a standalone biosecurity department headed up by a minister for biosecurity and a Queensland chief environmental biosecurity officer.

The Greens recognise the need for greater investment in biosecurity and support for the community, although there are few details in their policy. They support implementation of the recent Queensland biosecurity capability review and the national biosecurity review.

The Liberal National Party did not answer our election questionnaire. During the previous LNP government, biosecurity staffing was severely cut.

Funding was withdrawn from environmental responses such as eradicating yellow crazy ants, and the sole conservation representative was removed from the minister’s biosecurity advisory committee. We can only assume similar policies if the LNP is returned to office. The party’s promised new funding of $25 million for pests and weeds, $11 million for biosecurity capability and $3 million for pig control is directed primarily at agricultural risks.

One Nation answered the first third of our questionnaire. The party confirmed it supports prevention and early action as being more cost-effective than control of invasive species once they have established. Otherwise the task is ‘nearly impossible’, they said. The party supports funding for eradication of yellow crazy ants and Koster’s curse.

Update: On Fri 24 Nov One Nation provided a response to all survey questions. The additional response of note is that One Nation support for conservation sector representation on the ministerial advisory committee. The scorecard has not been updated to reflect the additional responses.

Katter’s Australia Party did not answer our questionnaire and no relevant policies could be located.


We’ve summarised the position of each of the parties regarding the 10 areas covered in our election questionnaire (see the key and questions below).

The order of the parties in the table reflects the level of their support for our 10 biosecurity priorities. The Greens support positive action in all ten areas and the ALP in nine.

The other parties lag far behind with One Nation publicly committing to action in four areas, the LNP in one and Katter’s Party in none. With election day looming, we urge these parties to develop and announce biosecurity policies essential for protecting Queensland’s precious places and wildlife from invasive species.

Update: On Fri 24 Nov One Nation provided a response to all survey questions. We now consider that One Nation supports action in six areas. The scorecard has not been updated to reflect the additional responses.


The following is a summary of the questions asked of each party/candidate. You can also download the complete election survey.

Fire ants

  • Support ten-year fire ant eradication?

Yellow crazy ants

  • Queensland role in yellow crazy ant response?
  • Support eradication from Cairns, Townsville?

Koster’s curse

  • Vision for future environmental weed responses?
  • Support eradication of Koster’s curse near Cairns?


  • Support increase in biosecurity expenditure?
  • Support land-based levies for properties >= two hectares?

Biosecurity policy

  • Steps to better prepare Queensland for new invasive species?
  • Queensland’s role as national leader on invasive species prevention and response?

Environmental leadership

  • Role for environment department in biosecurity?
  • Support creation of Minister for Biosecurity?

National review

  • Support Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity review recommendations?
  • Advancing environmental biosecurity in Queensland?

Capability review

  • Support recommendations of biosecurity capability review

Research and preparedness

  • Expanded role for research and preparedness for new invasive species


  • Resource ‘general biosecurity obligation’ for community participation?
  • Feral Pest Initiative and Environmental Conservation grants directed to early-stage community action?
  • Support local partners in combating early stage invasive species?
  • Maintain QCC nominee on biosecurity advisory committee?


The party responses to our questionnaire can be found below:

Authorised by Andrew Cox, 88b Station St, Fairfield Vic 3078.

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Help protect NSW!

Our expert team has written a list of policy asks detailing exactly what the next NSW government needs to do to stamp out some of the worst invasive species impacts across the state. But they will only become a reality if every key political candidate at the 2023 NSW state election hears about it from you!

Dear National Deer Management Coordinator,

Please accept this as a submission to the National Feral Deer Action Plan.

[Your personalised message will appear here] 

I am very concerned about the spread of deer and am pleased that a national plan has finally been developed. Without urgent action, funding and commitment from all levels of government it is clear that feral deer will continue to spread and damage our environment.

The feral deer population in Australia is growing rapidly and spreading across the country, damaging our natural environment, causing havoc for farmers and foresters and threatening public safety. Unlike much of the world where deer are native, our plants and wildlife haven’t evolved to deal with these heavy hard hooved animals with a voracious appetite.
With no natural predators and an ability to adapt to almost all environments, they could occupy almost all of Australia unless stopped. Despite this, state and territory governments have been slow to respond and in Victoria and Tasmania they are still protected by law for the enjoyment of hunters.

This plan should be adopted by all governments but must also be underpinned by dedicated funding and clear responsibilities. A plan without funding or accountability is a plan that will fail and Australia cannot afford for this to fail.

In order to prevent the spread of feral deer and reduce their impact on our native wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture, I ask that the following recommendations be adopted for the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

1. All federal, state and territory governments should adopt the National Feral Deer Action Plan and declare feral deer to be a priority pest animal species.

2. All federal, state and territory governments should commit to:

  • Contain deer to the existing large population areas.
  • Reduce and eradicate smaller and isolated populations.
  • Protect important environmental assets such as world and national heritage areas.
  • Develop and fund regional plans and strategies to manage deer populations which involve land managers across all tenures.

3. In order to drive action and the success of this plan, there should be dedicated Commonwealth funding and support for:

  • A permanent national feral deer coordinator position.
  • A permanent federal feral deer action committee with representatives from the commonwealth and state and territory governments and the environmental and agricultural sectors.
  • An ongoing public education campaign on feral deer.
  • A network of regional feral deer coordinators to drive local action across tenures.

4. The expected outcomes for the plan need to be more ambitious, with clear interim targets including:

  • Within one year, all States and Territories should have in place arrangements to implement the National Feral Deer Action Plan, including allocating dedicated funding for implementation.
  • Within one year, feral deer management plans should be developed for key environmental assets of national significance, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Greater Blue Mountains, the Australian Alps, the Gondwana Rainforests and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
  • Within five years coordinated landscape scale management should be in place where land owners, land managers, government and community are demonstrably working together.

5. A national feral deer containment map with three zones should be adopted. It should be more ambitious than the zone map in the current draft plan and there should be greater clarity in the naming of the zones. Improvements that should be adopted include:

  • Renaming the zones to better reflect the management intention to ‘Containment Zone 1’ (the current large population zone), ‘Containment Buffer Zone 2’ (the current buffer zone) and ‘Eradication and prevention Zone 3’ (the current small isolated population zone).
  • The NSW northern rivers area should be in the eradication and prevention zone as there are few feral deer currently in this region and eradicating isolated populations and preventing spread into this area is still possible.
  • The whole of South Australia should be in the eradication and prevention zone as eradication is the goal of the SA Government.
  • The Tasmanian region in the containment zone should be smaller to reflect greater ambition and potential for eradication of deer populations.
  • In eastern Victoria areas such as Wilson’s Promontory, Westernport islands and the Mornington Peninsula should be in the eradication and prevention zone.

6. There should be consistent laws and regulations across all states and territories that:

  • Recognise feral deer as a pest animal and treat them as such.
  • Establish a clear responsibility for all landholders and managers to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • Set clear penalties to stop the wilful or negligent release of feral deer.
  • Prevent new deer farms in areas where no feral deer are present and phase out all deer farms in the eradication and prevention zone.
  • Enable enforcement of compliance, including on government land.

I support the follow principles being adopted in the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

  • Feral deer are a pest and should be treated as such on all tenures, except on approved deer farms.
  • Federal, state and territory governments have a responsibility to fund the outcomes under this plan.
  • All land managers in areas where feral deer are present have a responsibility to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • The focus of management efforts should be on eradication of isolated, satellite populations, protection of key environmental assets currently impacted and stopping the spread to new regions.
  • Feral deer control should be undertaken humanely, safely and professionally according to agreed protocols and all tools which meet this criteria should be adopted, including aerial control.
  • Funding for coordination, regional planning and community engagement is necessary for effective feral deer management.
  • Ongoing management and follow up control efforts are required to achieve long lasting results.
  • Rules and regulations should be consistent across jurisdictions and land tenures.
  • Recreational hunting is not an effective strategy for feral deer control and should not be relied upon.
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your suburb], [Your state]