House debates

Thursday, 30 November 2023

Statements by Members

Invasive Species Management

1:50 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

Confirmation that red imported fire ants have crossed the border, from Queensland to New South Wales, this week is indeed devastating. We've been warning, on this side of the parliament, about the Labor government's funding package—firstly, that it was inadequate and, secondly, that it wasn't rolled out soon enough. We also established a Senate inquiry because we had lost confidence that this government could deal with this, and this outbreak unfortunately proves the case.

To put this into perspective, these ants are dangerous and deadly. They will cost the economy billions of dollars and also mean thousands of extra medical visits every year. They sting around the eyes, mouth and nose, leading to blindness and suffocation. It feels like being set on fire. Their mounds can destroy equipment and machinery. They can prevent transport of stock and food and destroy ecosystems. Eradication is possible right now, but it won't be if this government waits any longer. There are unfortunate reports from locals at Murwillumbah that DPI officers are saying that their response is limited by available resources—things like checkpoints, community advertising and officers for certification and inspections seem to be taking time to deploy because of the lack of available funding and personnel. I'm asking this government to get on the case. They've been very slow on a number of things, but this is a very dangerous outbreak. I ask both the federal and state Labor governments to get off their backsides and get onto the eradication of this very dangerous ant.


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