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April 22, 2024

Government amends Biosecurity (Fire Ants) Emergency Order

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These amendments will strengthen the requirements for Queensland turf suppliers and installers, as part of its hardline approach to stop fire ants from entering the state.

The movement of turf from Southeast Queensland remains a high-risk carrier material of fire ants and has been linked to the fire ant nest found in Murwillumbah in late November 2023.

Fire ants commonly by humans

Minister for Agriculture, Tara Moriarty, said fire ants are commonly spread through human activity, such as the movement of materials used for landscaping, building, and agriculture, such as soil and turf. ‘Fire ants are not marching into NSW; they are being carried, and it’s this human behaviour we are addressing both through education and compliance measures.’

Businesses, individuals, and the turf industry are now being asked to get behind the fight against fire ants by ensuring their turf products are treated and fire ant-free, to reduce the risk of fire ants spreading into NSW.

Turf sourced from the fire ant-infested area of QLD must now be treated at the point of lay in NSW. Installers must either treat turf immediately following lay, or store in preventative conditions until installation.

Record of Movement Declaration

A Record of Movement Declaration must be completed by anyone who initiates the movement of turf from either a fire ant infested area in QLD or movement control area in NSW. 

QLD sourced turf must also include the upload of a plant health certificate, ensuring that the supplier has complied with all treatment, harvest, and transport requirements in the order.

Chemicals used in the treatment of the turf must be approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and used in accordance with label directions and permit conditions.

For businesses ‘on selling’ turf products, it is crucial that treatment requirements and necessary documentation are passed onto consumers.

Manage the movement of materials

Ms Moriarty said the Emergency Orders already identify and manage the movement of fire ant carrier materials that present high risks of carrying fire ants. ‘Turf is a high-risk carrier, providing the perfect environment for ant settlement and movement.

‘By applying this treatment and keeping fire ants out of NSW, the turf industry is contributing to protecting our environment and economy.

‘So far, the northern NSW community has played a crucial and proactive role, and we thank them for their cooperation.’

Biosecurity (Fire Ants) Emergency Order explained

  • The Order places restrictions on the movement into NSW from the fire ant infested area of Queensland of fire ant carrier materials including organic mulch, compost, growing media, manure, soil and anything with soil on it, hay, straw, chaff, silage, potted plants, turf, agricultural equipment, earth moving equipment, sand, gravel, chitters, coal fines, coal stone, overburden and decomposed granite .
  • It outlines the requirements for the movement of each carrier into NSW from the fire ant infested area in QLD.
  • A person in breach of an emergency order is guilty under the Biosecurity Act 2015 of a category 2 offence, for which the maximum penalties are:
    • In the case of an individual $1,100,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $137,500 for each day the offence continues.
    • In the case of a corporation $2,200,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $275,000 for each day the offence continues.

For more information about red imported fire ants and the Emergency Order, visit the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) website.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Shouldn’t the turf be treated before it leaves Queensland not treated in NSW talk about stupid you’d only need a few ants to get away or a rogue operator not complying or giving a stuff about bio security to have a outbreak in NSW frig who dreamt this idea up and of course there are not enough compliance officers to police this obviously it need to treated in Queensland and checked at the border of NSW makes lot more sense not leaving the gate open and hoping the ants don’t bolt argh

    • Well, that is more sensible and effective, but it still wouldn’t have stopped them anymore than the all the compliance stuff stopped them getting into the country in the first place.

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