Today’s announcement by Labor to dedicate $24.8 million to tackle yellow crazy ant infestations in Cairns and Townsville regions if it wins the next federal election would bring much needed relief to northern Queensland from this destructive invasive pest.
‘Labor’s announcement is a potential game changer for Townsville, an infestation that has been without adequate funding since the Queensland Government abandoned its eradication program in 2012,’ Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise said.
‘Yellow crazy ants are one of the world’s worst invasive species. They can turn forests silent, make homes unliveable and severely impact tourism and trade.
‘The Townsville infestations are out of control and are seeding new infestations like the one that now threatens the Whitsundays.
‘Getting on top of these two major infestations would mean that we have a real shot at eradicating yellow crazy ants from northern Queensland. This new funding is what the experts say is required.
‘Infestations in Townsville are only a few kilometres from an endemic hotspot of threatened species at Mt Elliot in Bowling Green Bay National Park and are moving closer, so this commitment couldn’t be more timely.
‘Labor’s announcement also locks in funding for the successful eradication program at Cairns being run by the Wet Tropics Management Authority. Continuing this funding is vitally important if we are to safeguard Australia’s World Heritage-listed rainforests, and it’s pleasing to now see bipartisan support for this measure.
‘Matching funding from the Queensland Government will still be required if the highly successful Cairns eradication program, which was set to run out of funding in June 2022, is to finish its critical job,’ Mr Trezise said.
The funding is part of a broader environment package announced today by Labor, including the establishment of a Saving Native Species Program and 1,000 Landcare rangers.
A recent study released by the Invasive Species Council and other environment groups highlighted that invasive species are the highest impact threat to Australia’s threatened species.
Banner Image: A yellow crazy ant supercolony in Far North Queensland – Frank Teodo.