The Invasive Species Council has backed a review that says Queensland’s run-down biosecurity system must be rebuilt to protect people, the environment and agriculture from future pests and diseases.
“Queenslanders have felt the full force of dangerous new invasive species with infestations of yellow crazy ants threatening to turn the state’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area into a massive dead zone,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.
“The red imported fire ant outbreak in south-east Queensland has already cost more than $300 million and without successful eradication this could turn into a damage bill exceeding $40 billion over the next 30 years.
“Clearly, without a rigorous and well-resourced biosecurity and surveillance system, damaging pests can slip into the state with disastrous consequences.”
The Queensland Biosecurity Capability Review was tabled in Parliament yesterday and contains 32 recommendations that would improve the way the state responds to risks from invasive plants, animals, insects and diseases.
“Queensland’s biosecurity system suffered years of neglect under the former Newman Government,” Mr Cox said.
“The review’s findings that we need to focus on prevention and early action confirms that the Newman Government’s decision to abandon the yellow crazy ant eradication program was a mistake.
“The Queensland Government must now turn the tide on these highly aggressive ants by reinstating its support for the eradication program.”
The long-awaited review addresses serious shortcomings in the Queensland Government’s approach to biosecurity. The Invasive Species Council urges its full implementation.
“Queensland faces financial constraints, but unless new funds are found implementation of the review’s findings will be difficult. Good biosecurity is not cheap but it is much cheaper than the consequences of allowing dangerous new pests into the state,” Mr Cox said.
“We strongly welcome the review’s recommendation to move the state’s biosecurity system towards prevention and surveillance and establish a new preparedness and response unit.
“It is pleasing to see the report identify marine biosecurity as a major gap that needs to be addressed by a marine biosecurity initiative.
“We also strongly welcome the recommendation to realign government action towards ‘public benefit’ biosecurity and the plan to recover costs from private beneficiaries.
“A stronger focus on northern Australia was also another important finding given the regularity of new invasive species arrivals from the north.”
The comprehensive review consulted with industry and land management stakeholders, key research bodies as well as federal, state and territory biosecurity agencies and local government.
The Invasive Species Council is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for stronger laws, policies and programs to keep the Australian environment safe from new weeds, feral animals and other invaders.
- Andrew Cox, CEO Invasive Species Council on 0438 588 040.