Botany Bay Fire Ant colony a warning on foolish biosecurity cuts

MEDIA RELEASE – 9 December 2014

The Greens NSW Primary Industries spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said the discovery of a fire ant colony at Botany Bay was a major concern and that the NSW Government had been irresponsible in cutting staff and budget from the Department of Primary Industries biosecurity division, and redirecting $19 million into monitoring hunting in national parks.

Since coming to office the O’Farrell/Baird government has cut the budget for biosecurity by $5.6 million including 50 staff positions. A further $19 million over five years has been redirected to monitoring amateur hunting in national parks.

“The discovery of the fire ant colony at Botany Bay is a major biosecurity concern that should be dealt with as an extreme priority,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Biosecurity is an area where something may not appear much of a problem until it becomes a really big problem.  That’s why it is important to have a strict biosecurity regime and devote adequate resources to prevention.

“The Natural Resources Commission has recommended that a ‘high risk incursion fund’ be established, however, the government has dragged its feet and failed to establish the fund.

“The discovery of fire ants is a wake up call to a government that has cut staff and funding from biosecurity and has failed to implement many reforms recommended by Natural Resource Commission.

“Less on-the-ground staff means less surveillance and means more chance of incursions like this occurring in the future. Prevention is the key to strong and economically efficient biosecurity.

“During the last session of parliament, the government proposed an amendment to its Biosecurity Bill 2014 to remove a similar species of tramp ant (the African big-headed ant) from the list of prohibitive matter because they felt it was too wide-spread.

“The Greens believe that biosecurity is too important to raise the white flag, even if it will require significant resources to protect NSW from these threats.”

Contact: Max Phillips 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


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