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LABOR DELAYS FUNDING TO STOP THE SPREAD OF RED IMPORTED FIRE ANTS

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Labor’s announcement to put aside $268 million over four years in federal funding to stop the spread of red imported fire ants was delayed and not enough.
Mr Littleproud said the funding was a belated announcement that had wasted precious time.
“The Response Plan in July said $593 million was required over the next four years to control the pest, including immediate funding for 2023-24,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program strategic review also estimated that at least $200 to $300 million per year was required. Labor’s funding was needed four months ago, which puts the time-critical response at risk. Unfortunately, the lack of action and the delays in funding undermines previous work that had been done under the Coalition Government.” Mr Littleproud added it took The Nationals to call for a Senate inquiry, which will assess the current and any proposed response plans plus evaluate funding, for Labor to finally act.
“The Commonwealth also should have been showing leadership on this issue but we now have to wait for other states to put their funding forward.
“The Invasive Species Council is warning red imported fire ants could now spread beyond current containment zones into western Queensland and New South Wales. The pest is just five kilometres from the New South Wales border on the Gold Coast and was also recently
discovered on the outskirts of Toowoomba, meaning the fire ant has made it across the
Great Dividing Range for the first time.

“The frightening thing is that if it gets up above the Great Dividing Range, it could potentially get into the Murray Darling Basin, and that could effectively see the fire ants go right down to Adelaide. It would impact the whole country and have devastating consequences.”

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