Monday, 21 September 2020
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Fire ants reach Wyaralong Dam

A fire ant infestation has been found at Wyaralong Dam, which according to the Department of Agriculture, is the first.

Dozens of fire ant nests were spotted on the recreation side of the dam including in areas around the rowing centre.

The resident who found them said one of the nests is so large it was about four metres across and would have had to be there for a number of years.

He said if there had been any surveillance done in the area there would have been no way of missing the nests. He reported the infestation last Friday.

A response from Biosecurity Queensland regarding the nests on Monday, stated there had never been a report of fire ants in the immediate area despite being in the fire ant biosecurity zone.

“The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program has no record of fire ants being reported at or in the immediate vicinity of Wyaralong Dam, Allenview,” A spokesperson for the department said on Monday.

“If the dam did have fire ants, the program would work with the property owner SEQWater to manage the issue.”

However, in a follow up on Tuesday, a spokesperson said a report had been made on Friday afternoon and initial treatment had begun on suspected nests on Tuesday.

The action was welcomed but one former employee claimed there had been a team from the fire ant program surveying at the dam in July.

The Department of Biosecurity spokesperson said: "Field officers did survey a sentinel surveillance site close to the rowing club last month. This was routine surveillance and the area was clear of fire ants."

But as of Tuesday, treatment was being conducted for fire ants in the vicinity of the rowing club on the Wyaralong Dam access road.

Member for Scenic Rim, Jon Krause, who has been vocal about the fire ant program in parliament said since his speech exposing claims of misdeeds, current and past employees have approached him.

“Since exposing in Parliament some of the huge problems with the fire ant program, whistleblowers keep coming forward – past and current employees – to shine even more light on the failures of this $400 million program,” Mr Krause said. 

“One claim made was that records of fire ants – including where nests were located on blocks of land – were deliberately disposed of. These are very serious accusations.”

“There are serious problems with this fire ant program, with the way it is run, the culture of its administration and most damning, its effectiveness – as we can see with fire ants continuing to spread.”

“Minister Mark Furner should refer this entire program to the Auditor-General for investigation, and if he won’t, the Auditor-General should take it on himself and get to the bottom of where the millions of Queensland taxpayers dollars are actually going.”