News

Mayor furious at decision to scale back fire ant program

UPDATE: Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones has voiced his bitter disappointment at the State Government's decision to scale back the fire ant program, especially as the ants were recently found on prime agricultural land in Forest Hill.

"As mayor, I will do whatever it takes to fight for the reinstatement of funding to the program and I expect nothing less from local MP Ian Rickuss," Cr Jones said.

"Fire ants are a serious environmental and agricultural problem causing damage to seeds, seedlings and fruit and have been known to cause the deaths of newborn and young livestock and in some cases have rendered animals blind.

"Need I remind Mr Rickuss that the agriculture industry alone in the Lockyer Valley is worth in excess of $300 million a year and to even contemplate reducing funding to the eradication program is ridiculous, let alone actually doing it.

"By slashing millions of dollars in funding and axing 45 positions in the fire ant program, the State Government is playing Russian roulette with the Lockyer Valley.

Cr Jones said news reports had confirmed that the Lockyer Valley was a focus area of the fire ant program.

"Given fire ants are attracted to disturbed soil such as farms and road works, I find it absolutely abhorrent that this vital program has been targeted for job reductions and budget cuts," Cr Jones said.

"I lobbied the previous government for six years to ensure more was being done to abolish fire ants when they were on the fringe of Brisbane and will lobby the current government to have funding reinstated to ensure fire ants are completely eradicated in the Lockyer Valley.

"I will not sit idly by and watch the region be destroyed by fire ants."

EARLIER: Biosecurity Queensland has placed the Lockyer Valley on fire ant alert, following the discovery of a nest at Forest Hill.

A leading fire ant expert told the Star the Lockyer Valley had become a high risk area and urged all property owners to be on the lookout for the pests.

Somerset councillor Jim Madden also urged residents in his council area to be vigilant.

Are authorities doing enough to stop the spread of fire ants?

This poll ended on 17 November 2012.

Yes - 1%

No - 98%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The latest nest was identified by a Forest Hill landowner, who contacted Biosecurity Queensland immediately.

This is the ninth colony identified in the region in the past 15 months.

Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre director Neil O'Brien said the Lockyer Valley was now a high risk area.

"Our focus is that fire ants don't become established in the Lockyer Valley," Mr O'Brien said. "And to do that, we need help from the region.

"People need to get out there and have a look around their properties."

Director of Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre Neil O'Brien keeps a close eye on sample collection from the Forest Hill fire ant infestation.
Director of Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre Neil O'Brien keeps a close eye on sample collection from the Forest Hill fire ant infestation. Kerry O'Neill

Mr O'Brien said this nest was the third black soil infestation.

Mount Mort and Blacksoil had also recorded fire ants on farmland.

Mr O'Brien urged residents and farmers to be vigilant and to report any suspicious ant activity immediately.

"In this latest case, a vigilant landowner noticed the ant nest, knew something was different and rang us. This is the sort of response we need," Mr O'Brien said.

The Forest Hill fire ants may have flown into the region, as fire ants can fly up to 16km.

DNA tests on the single queen nest will establish its origins.

Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss said $15 million in funding for fire ant eradication was assured under a national cost-sharing arrangement.

The Queensland Government had committed a further $1.9m over and above the cost sharing arrangements, to ensure the longterm fire ant fight continued, he said.

"I will be talking to appropriate Ministers to keep this funding going," Mr Rickuss said.

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones questioned whether the State Government was doing enough, given fire ants had infiltrated some of Australia's best agricultural land.

"I am very concerned that fire ants have been found on prime agricultural land," Cr Jones said.

"And like all local land users, I call on Ian Rickuss to ensure that no stone is left unturned in eradicating this problem, before too much damage is done."

Contact Biosecurity Queensland on 132523.

Topics:  biosecurity queensland fire ant lockyer valley



Date nights under $50

ACCORDING to The Bachelor falling in love involves helicopter rides, private jets, shopping trips, and we mustn’t forget the hot tubs.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Six reasons to get to Brisbane this Autumn

The Brisbane Powerhouse has free comedy on Friday nights.

AUTUMN has to be up there with one of the best seasons of the year.

The best things to do in Brisbane are FREE. Yes, FREE

Mt Coot-tha is a seriously gorgeous way to start your day.

HEADING to the big smoke doesn’t have to come with a big price tag.

Grab a friend, pour a cuppa for a cause

CHEERS TO THAT: Warwick Cancer Council branch will host its Biggest Morning Tea event this week.

There is no better day of the year than tomorrow for a cuppa

McCulkin murder trial: Theory labelled 'unlikely' by judge

Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne. The family disappeared in 1974.

Mrs McCulkin’s purse and engagement ring were left behind

Doctor's pregnancy comments cause outrage

FREE HEALTH: South-west health directer doctor Chris Buck.

A DARLING Downs doctor has come under fire for a Facebook post

Local Partners

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life. When the lie found its way back to her boyfriend, there was hell to pay.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Why the critics have got Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur all wrong.

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

There have been multiple confirmed deaths after 'explosions' heard at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!