Nowhere in Australia is safe.
That’s the warning from the head of the nation’s Invasive Species Council, which wants levies on air and sea cargo to fund a biosecurity fighting fund to stop the arrival of deadly insects and plants capable of causing an ecological disaster.
“We’re calling them the ‘dirty dozen’ because the case studies include some of Australia’s most deadly invasive species – red fire ants, the eucalypt-killer myrtle rust, red-eared slider turtles and yellow crazy ants,” council CEO Andrew Cox said on Wednesday.
“Nowhere in Australia has been safe from these deadly incursions.”
Queensland is battling fire ants. The Asian black-spined toad, which pumps out poison through its glands, has turned up in the cooler regions of Victoria and NSW and has now reached Western Australia.
Native plant killer myrtle rust – which infests the eastern seaboard – has now crossed the Bass Strait to Tasmania, Mr Cox said.
“Australia’s environmental border controls are a leaky sieve and must be fixed,” he said.
Mr Cox is calling on the federal government to act on the findings of a 2017 national biosecurity review.
These include setting up a biosecurity fighting fund paid for by air and sea levies, basing a biosecurity “champion” within the federal environment department and the compilation of a national priority list of invasive threats.