Fire ant program warning about movement compliance

Moving fire ant carriers across the fire ant biosecurity zones in South East Queensland in breach of Biosecurity Regulation 2016 will result in serious penalties.

That’s the warning from the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program which in line with new regulations under the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999, can now issue penalty infringement notices (PINs) to companies and individuals who move soil, turf, pot plants, hay, mulch or other materials that may carry fire ants.

Program General Manager Graeme Dudgeon said biosecurity threats were an issue for the whole community, from individual property owners and businesses, to public landowners such as councils.

“The PINs can be issued for a range of offences, including moving soil from one biosecurity zone to another, and carry penalties of up to $5,000,” he said.

The warning comes with the first PINs issued to a haulage company, which has been fined over $14,000 for a number of offences involving the movement of fire ant carriers in breach of the requirements of Biosecurity Regulation 2016.

“While most industry operators take their legislative requirements seriously, penalty infringement notices are a new tool to target those who don’t.

“It is important that individuals and companies understand that we are serious about stopping the spread of fire ants.

“PINs will be issued to individuals or companies who should know about the movement controls because of the type of work they do, and who have a history of working within the fire ant biosecurity zones, but due to disregard, recklessness or ignorance undertake non-compliant movements.

“Our compliance officers are actively monitoring movements in South East Queensland to identify any non-compliance.

“People need to be aware of the rules before moving soil or other fire ant carriers and if necessary apply for a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP).”

Mr Dudgeon described fire ants as a ‘super pest’. “They are aggressive, highly-adaptive and well-equipped for survival,” he said.

“They are Category 1 restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014 and everyone, including industry, is legally required to report any infestations.”

Visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireants and follow the link to the fire ant biosecurity zone map to see the key points of the regulation and the movement restriction zones.

Media Contact: Peter Scott - 0459 855 046