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Labor is failing the fire ant eradication program

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the Federal Labor Government is failing to stop the eradication of fire ants by spending less on the eradication program, after a joint meeting between the Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and State Agriculture Ministers couldn’t reach an agreement on funding allocation.
Mr Littleproud said Labor’s decision to go back to the drawing board simply wasn’t good enough, particularly when they also announced just $60 million in funding for fire ant eradication, down from $94 million last year.
“Labor is taking too long to make what is a critical decision for the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication program,” Mr Littleproud said.
“This was discussed back in May and it’s now crunch time. There were already fears this program would be underfunded but now Labor is dragging the chain.”
At least $200 million to $300 million per year is needed to eradicate fire ants by 2032 and save Australia from $2 billion in annual economic costs.
Mr Littleproud added the lack of action was undermining previous work that had been done under the Coalition Government, with the
“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.
Invasive Species Council warning red fire ants could now
spread beyond current containment zones into western Queensland and New South Wales.
The pest was recently discovered on the outskirts of Toowoomba, meaning the fire ant has made
it across the Great Dividing Range for the first time.
“Fire ants are also now on the Gold Coast. If the fire ants reach New South Wales, it will be
devastating.
“This is an urgent issue and the question needs to be asked whether Queensland Agricultural
Industry Development Minister Mark Furner is up to administering this program, considering he’s
responsible for its failure to date.”

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