Recent claims about the competency and appropriateness in which the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program is being managed by the Palaszczuk Labor Government, raises serious questions that need to be answered.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett has called for a comprehensive independent audit into the program, after the concerning allegations went public and the failures to meet performance targets to date.
“These allegations are concerning, especially after Estimates last week where Minister Mark Furner and his department acted like everything was going well*,” Mr Perrett said.
“This program is funded by all states and territories and therefore Queensland has a responsibility to deliver on their investment – an investment that many states, in particular New South Wales, would be calling into question, after these allegations.
“Despite the public reporting Fire Ant nests, there is a lack of action and co-ordination from Biosecurity Queensland in its response to these sightings.
“We have seen more than 26 regions outside the Fire Ant Eradiation Zone detect the pests, despite assurances from the Minister that everything is going to plan.**
“Biosecurity Queensland have failed to prosecute or fine any individuals or businesses under the regulations for spreading fire ants, despite admitting fire ants have been detected during compliance activities.***
“Important issues, like those raised by the whistle-blower Jamie Varcoe, continue to undermine the public’s confidence in the program that has been plagued with delays and mishaps.
“The LNP continues to have concerns about the way in which the fire ant eradication plan is being implemented.
“The LNP take the accusations very seriously and believe it’s time for Minister Furner to stop hiding the reality from Queenslanders on the success of their fire ant eradication program and answer these very serious questions.”
* Fire ant estimates questioning p73-74: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2019/2019_07_24_EstimatesSDC.pdf
** Fire ant detections outside eradiation zone (see attached map): Southport, Labrador, Hope Island, Helensvale, Oxenford, Maudsland, Boyland, Birnam, Beaudesert, Veresdale Scrub, Veresdale, Gleneagle, Bromelton, Anthony, Obum Obum, Moorang, Townson, Thornton, Mulgowie, Laidley Creek West, Gatton, Lake Clarendon, Regency Downs, Hatton Vale, Pine Mountain, Kholo.
*** Answer to Question on notice No. 897: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/questionsAnswers/2019/897-2019.pdf