Media Release

​Brisbane detection sparks fire ant response​

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Leanna Donaldson


25 February 2016​

The Australian and Queensland Governments have initiated a rapid response following a new detection of fire ants at Brisbane airport.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said it was critically important to protect Australia from exotic pests such as fire ants.

“Exotic fire ants pose a huge threat to our economy and environment—if they were to establish in Australia the estimated cost would be around $8.5 billion over 70 years,” Minister Joyce said.  

“They can inflict painful bites on people, pets and livestock and invade food and water sources. 

“That is why the Australian and Queensland Governments have responded quickly, deploying biosecurity officers to immediately destroy the nest and determine the extent of the incursion.

“Initial response actions undertaken by the Queensland Government are being funded by the Australian Government’s Immediate Assistance Fund, which is a key initiative of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

“These funds have been committed through the White Paper for just this purpose—to allow for swift and effective containment given that these responses are often time critical and involve agreement from several jurisdictions.”

Queensland Minster for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson said her department acted immediately to contain the fire ants and implement a new eradication response plan.

“This is a new arrival of fire ants to Australia, and we have moved quickly to destroy any nests and secure the area,” Minister Donaldson said.

“A large surveillance operation is underway including people on the ground, odour detection dogs and a widespread community engagement campaign.

“To help contain the fire ants, movement restrictions will also apply for high risk material in the new fire ant restricted area for suburbs surrounding the airport.

“We have support from all Australian states and territories, which have unanimously agreed to jointly fund the eradication.

“More than $910,000 has been allocated to contain and eradicate the new incursion of fire ants over a two-year period.

“We have seen through the success of the fire ant program in Gladstone, Port Botany and the Port of Brisbane that this terrible invasive pest can be eradicated, and the key is to act quickly.”

For more information on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program or to report suspect ants visit www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants​ or call 13 25 23.​