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Labor is losing control of fire ant eradication program

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is warning Labor is losing control of its National Fire Ant Eradication Program, with Labor failing to commit to the funding required.
It comes after the Invasive Species Council’s analysis of a leaked fire ant eradication report compiled by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries showed there would be a surge in fire ant numbers without additional funding.
The council says the National Fire Ant Eradication Program Response Plan 2023-2027 shows there is evidence of a $49 million shortfall in fire ant funding for 2023/24, risking the spread of the super pest across Australia. Mr Littleproud said the developments were deeply concerning.
“Time is ticking and the Federal Labor Government must act,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The Federal Labor Government should be contributing their share of funding that is required under the $133 million Response Plan immediately, so Queensland can get on with the job.
“The Queensland Government should be implementing an effective, efficient and appropriate response to what is required under the $133 million response plan for 2023-24.
“The Federal Government should also be taking a leadership role as Chair of the Agriculture Ministers across Australia to get a commitment.
“However, we now know in the Response Plan, a funding option was reduced to just $84 million, as some jurisdictions, including the Albanese Labor Government, hadn’t got their internal funding sorted. This isn’t good enough.”
The plan also says there needs to be $592 million spent over the next four years to control the pest and implement funding for 2023-24 now.
Mr Littleproud added the lack of action was undermining previous work that had been done under the Coalition Government, with the
Invasive Species Council warning red fire ants could now
spread beyond current containment zones into western Queensland and New South Wales.
“Fire ants are also now on the Gold Coast and just five kilometres from the border. If the fire ants
reach New South Wales, it will be devastating.”

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