Qld Election: Crazy ants, feral deer and rampant weeds

Media Release |

The Invasive Species Council today released its scorecard on where Queensland political parties stand when it comes to protecting the state from invasive yellow crazy ants, feral deer and rampant environmental weeds.

“Queensland is a real battleground in the fight against environmentally destructive invasive ants, feral deer and weeds, and the political parties need to take these threats very seriously if they are to protect people and nature from invasive species,” the council’s CEO Andrew Cox said today.

“The Greens have the best policies for protecting Queensland from invasive species and received our highest score,” he said.

“The current Labor government led by Annastacia Palaszczuk scored a weak second for its policies on protecting Queenslanders from environmentally destructive invasive species.

“In 2019 Queensland Labor provided three years of funding to eradicate yellow crazy ants in the Cairns area and provided limited assistance to control other infestations. After two terms of government Labor still has a lot more work to do.

“The Liberal National Party scored the weakest, were a massive disappointment during the Newman government’s term and need to broaden out their focus on pests and weeds beyond a concern for agriculture.

“If Queenslanders follow our scorecard their vote helps make sure the next state government has strong biosecurity measures in place to deal with destructive invasive species.”

The scorecard shows North Queensland First and Sandy Bolton, independent for Noosa, are good general supporters of action on invasive species.

Scoring poorly were Katter’s Australia Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Animal Justice Party.

The Invasive Species Council sent a questionnaire to the major political parties on action on issues such as invasive red fire ants, yellow crazy ants, feral deer and weeds and asked if Queensland should have a Minister for Biosecurity.

We received responses from the Greens, Labor, LNP and NQ First.

Queensland election scorecard: Policy commitments on yellow crazy ants, feral deer and weeds.

Scorecard results in detail

Greens: The Greens have the best policies on biosecurity and invasive species issues among Queensland’s major political parties.

The Greens provided strong positive responses to all issues raised in our questionnaire except on funding: they committed to $5.4 million a year to implement the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy but did not specify funding for the Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy or the Feral Deer Management Strategy.

Labor: The governing Queensland Labor Party has been a lacklustre performer on invasive species and biosecurity, but far stronger than the Liberal National Party when it was last in government.

Labor does not appear to have released any new policies on environmental biosecurity since the policy platform adopted at the August 2019 state conference. This platform stated the importance of a strong biosecurity system with shared responsibility and co-ownership of preparedness and responses, but mentioned pests and weeds only in the context of supporting agriculture.

Labor in government provided the much-needed funding for a national red fire ant eradication program and to eradicate yellow crazy ants from the Wet Tropics near Cairns. However, it does not support funding to eradicate the Townsville yellow crazy ant infestations. It had provided some funding for pest animal control beyond the wild dog control demanded by agricultural interests and committed to developing a new deer strategy in 2021.

Labor’s agriculture minister took two years to reappoint the ministerial biosecurity committee, resulting in lost momentum of the partnership-based biosecurity strategy. In its questionnaire response Labor committed to continuing dialogue with the Invasive Species Council to ensure a ‘world class approach’ to managing pests and weeds.

Liberal National Party: The Liberal National Party performed poorly on invasive species issues under the Newman government, which ended in 2015. It neglected environmental and other invasive species while focusing mainly on wild dog control in the interest of farmers.

For this election, the party’s policy platform does not mention biosecurity or invasive species however the Invasive Species Council received a four-page response to our questionnaire.

The Liberal National Party has committed to 10 new biosecurity staff and while highly critical of the red fire ant eradication program, continues to support the program goal. In its questionnaire response the party promised to ‘bolster and refocus the state’s war on pest and weeds’, but did not specify how it will do this. It said that the ministerial advisory council ‘should have an active role in informing government’ but would not confirm if it should have environmental representation.

The party said it takes ‘eradication of invasive species in Queensland seriously’ and supported ‘proper funding’ for the current yellow crazy ant eradication program. There was no specific support for eradication of yellow crazy ants from Townsville.

The Liberal National Party said it will work with stakeholders and the community to consider an approach to manage feral deer and would welcome engagement with the Invasive Species Council in developing a budget, to be delivered within 100 days of being elected.

Other parties

Katter’s Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party have no policy on invasive species threats in Queensland. They failed to answer our questionnaire.

North Queensland First party leader Jason Costigan committed to being a strong advocate for yellow crazy ant eradication funding, as well as funding for pest and weed control from regional mining royalties. North Queensland First wants the Biosecurity Queensland head office moved to Mareeba and supports Indigenous, environmental and NRM representation on the ministerial advisory council.

Independent member for Noosa Sandy Bolton supports action on pests and weeds. She has been a strong supporter of local government funding in this area as well as volunteer action.

The Animal Justice Party does not support practical action on pests and weeds and has no Queensland specific policies. It opposes the use of lethal pest control such as shooting, trapping or baiting, or the release of biological controls such as calicivirus used to control rabbits.

Policies and questionnaire responses

Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area is under threat from deer. The Tasmanian Government knows deer are invading this global treasure but is doing nothing about it.