The Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is developing a Private Members Bill to be put to the Federal Parliament in a bid to re-instate the Asian Honey Bee Program.
Mr Entsch says the cessation of the program by the Gillard Government is premature and should never have taken place as there is still time to eradicate the aggressive bee which has the potential of mass crop devastation, environmental damage and severe bio-security risks.
“At this time the Asian Honey Bee is eradicable, within one to two years it may not be. This in every sense is the equivalent of a cane toad with wings and it needs to be controlled before it is too late,” said Warren Entsch.
The Queensland Beekeepers Association claim the eradication effort needs a decent investment over a concerted period of time to achieve the best outcome.
The Association has warned that without eradication the bee will cause widespread crop failure, environmental and social damage.
“These bees will out-compete our native bees and wipe them out, they will take over nesting sites and hollow logs and trees where our native animals reside and kill them off also, and they will jeopardise the broad acre crop pollination of watermelons, pumpkins, honey dew and almonds. This is a disastrous outlook,” Mr Entsch said.
The Asian Honey Bee was first identified in the Torres Strait in 1992-1993. In 2007 it was first discovered in Cairns and is believed to have arrived via one swarm/nest on a boat that arrived in the region.
“We have had plenty of time to put a stop to the bee spreading and the Asian Honey Bee Eradication Program is believed to have been a great success with nearly 300 infestations being found and destroyed during the program. The nests found towards the end of the program were found with younger bees in them which showed that the adult population was being effectively brought under control.
“The bees are already travelling south since the program was scrapped by the Gillard Government late last year and there have been sightings of the bees as far south as Innisfail.
“The experts claim they need $5 million a year over only a couple of years to get this destructive bee under control and I believe this is a very small price to pay to mitigate the long term cost associated with it if left to spread and breed.
The Asian Honey Bee Program which has had its funding cut by the Federal Government was a very small investment of $3 million over 3 years,” Mr Entsch said.
The Federal Member for Leichhardt says a half-hearted effort by the Federal Government in funding the eradication program from the outset has not helped matters.
“This was not enough money to spend on the problem from the beginning, if the right amount of money and resources had been committed, we could have had this bee under control by now, but as usual the Labor Government has had a half hearted approach to the program.”
Mr Entsch warned of the long term risks.
“If eradication of this bee is not achieved, the risks are very real. We need to have a decent go at fighting it. The social and environmental impacts alone are quite scary. Already we have bees arriving in people’s home letterboxes, these are not any normal bee, they are very aggressive and are not the kind of insect you want around populated areas, especially small children,” he said.
Warren Entsch’s Private Members Bill is expected to be submitted to Parliament in the next sitting period (commencing 21st March 2011) and will be debated and voted on soon after.