A new outbreak of highly invasive fire ants has just been discovered only 5.5km from the NSW border at a pony club in Tallebudgera. The outbreak is 8 km further south than the recent Miami High School outbreak.
The Invasive Species Council says it puts NSW at extreme risk of being invaded by the highly destructive pest species and are calling on Australia’s governments to urgently fast track funding for a ramped up and effective eradication program.
‘Overnight, we became aware of a new fire ant outbreak location at a pony club in Tallebudgera, which is just 5.5km from the NSW border,’ said Invasive Species Council spokesperson Reece Pianta.
‘This means NSW is now at extreme risk of being invaded. The distance is now close enough for a single queen ant’s flight to spark a fire ant infestation across the border.
‘If fire ants spread across Australia they will be worse than rabbits, cane toads, foxes and feral cats combined. They are now racing towards the NSW border, but our governments are stuck like rabbits in the headlights.
‘This latest outbreak should be a massive wake up call to federal agriculture minister Murray Watt and his state and territory counterparts.
‘They need to stop mucking around and get on with an urgent ramp up of the eradication program. There are no excuses for further delay, underfunding and inaction.
‘We know the level of funding needed, we have wall-to-wall Labor governments on the mainland and we know what is at stake if fire ants are allowed to spread across Australia.
‘The government’s own strategic review estimated that at least $200 to $300 million per year will be required for ongoing efforts to achieve eradication by 2032. But instead they have only committed $60 million for this financial year, which is $34 million less than was spent last financial year.
‘Fire ants will devastate our native wildlife and cause billions of dollars in lost agricultural production every year.
‘In Queensland, we are already seeing sports fields and beaches closed due to the extremely painful sting inflicted by fire ants.
‘Modelling suggests that if fire ants spread across the continent they could cause over 100,000 extra hospital visits in Australia every year,’ said Mr Pianta.