A re-elected Coalition Government will deliver an $8.8 million funding package to help eradicate Yellow Crazy Ants and tackle tramp ants in Far North Queensland.
Yellow Crazy Ants, a species of invasive tramp ant, are a serious environmental threat, an agricultural pest and a risk to community safety, local economies and residents’ quality of life.
The Government’s commitment will build on almost $4 million of existing support to tackle Yellow Crazy Ants. This includes 10 Green Army teams working on the ground to assist controlling these problem ants next to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Today’s funding commitment includes $7.5 million of dedicated funding over three years under the National Landcare Programme for Yellow Crazy Ant and tramp ant control activities in Far North Queensland, including detection, baiting and monitoring, with a view to eradication of Yellow Crazy Ant infestations adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area over the longer term.
It will also include $1.3 million from the Established Pest Animals and Weeds Initiative to build the skills and capabilities amongst landholders and key agricultural and industry organisations to undertake detection, early intervention and management of tramp ants such as Yellow Crazy Ants.
Minister Hunt said Yellow Crazy Ants are a major threat to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, threatening its immense ecological value and its economic value as a tourism destination.
“There are major Yellow Crazy Ant control programs occurring already, but more needs to be done if we want to see infestations on the border of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area eliminated,” Minister Hunt said.
“That’s why the Turnbull Government is stepping up to the plate to tackle this major environmental, economic and community safety issue.”
“I call on the Queensland Government to match our funding, dollar for dollar.”
“Warren Entsch is a great local member who regularly talks to me about the environmental needs of his local community. He has shown me firsthand the damage Crazy Ants can do. He should be congratulated for advocating for this funding so strongly.”
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the $1.3 million component is part of the government’s $50 million Established Pest Animals and Weeds Initiative in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
“Every year pest animals and weeds cost our farmers around $4 billion in livestock losses, disease transmission and controls, and weed management costs,” Minister Joyce said.
“This funding is about taking collective action to deal with collective threats in Queensland, such as tramp ants.”
“We are building the capacity of landholders, communities and industry to better manage established pest animals and weeds across Queensland.”
Tramp ants are among the worst invasive species in the world. They have the potential to impact on our profitable agriculture sector, outdoor lifestyle and unique environment.
“This government has made safeguarding our agricultural industries from the impacts of pests, diseases and weeds a priority,” Minister Joyce said.
“By providing people on the ground with access to the resources and tools to better manage pests and weeds, we are giving ourselves the best chance in the fight against the most significant risks to our $58 billion industry and environment.”
Warren Entsch said it was absolutely critical that funding be directed at activities to achieve the eradication of this invasive species in specific areas around the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in the long-term.
“Simply talking about controlling and managing Yellow Crazy Ants is not good enough,” Mr Entsch said.
“It’s also vital that we continue to engage landholders and agricultural and community groups because they have played a major role to date and are going to contribute significantly to the success of the program in the future.”
“I’d like to congratulate local landowner Frank Teodo who has been an unwavering advocate on this issue, together with Noeline Ikin who has been instrumental from early on.”
“Lucy Karger, Gareth Humphreys and Chris Clerc from the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program have done fantastic work to date, as have members of Kuranda Envirocare and the Russett Park community.”
“I’d also like to thank my colleagues Minister Hunt, Minister Joyce and Queensland Senator James McGrath for recognising the seriousness of this issue, and Daniel Bateman from the Cairns Post for his ‘obsession’ with Yellow Crazy Ants.”
“Lastly, I call on Queensland Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, to match this funding, and to contribute the expertise and resources of Biosecurity Queensland.”
Funding provided under the National Landcare Programme will be provided through the additional funding provided to the Natural Heritage Trust in the 2016-17 Budget.