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March 3, 2024

Operation Victa stops fire ants at border

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Fire ants come in various sizes. DPI NSW.

The NSW government says it has continued to take a hardline approach to the threat of imported red fire ants, as Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty announced successful results for Operation Victa in recent days.

Over the first weekend in February, Operation Victa activated another wave of security checks on heavy vehicles at the border between New South Wales and Queensland, turning back any non-compliant vehicles.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Police, supported by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, stopped 100 high-risk vehicles at Chinderah to check loads and ensure biosecurity requirements were met.

Of the 100 vehicles stopped, 55 vehicles originated from the Red Imported Fire Ant infested zone in southeast Queensland.

Four vehicles didn’t comply with the requirement to hold relevant biosecurity documentation and were not permitted to enter the state. These vehicles also failed to have a clean truck and clean equipment to ensure all fire ant carrier materials had been removed.

Additional investigations will determine if additional enforcement actions are required.

Breaching the emergency biosecurity order carries penalties of up to $1.1 million for an individual and up to $2.2 million for a corporation.

All vehicle operators stopped at the border were questioned on their knowledge of the Biosecurity (Fire Ant) Emergency Order (No 1) 2024 during the inspection process. Authorities say the vast majority demonstrated their awareness and responsibility.

Operation Victa in action on the NSW Queensland border. Photo supplied.

Ongoing biosecurity operation

Operation Victa is ongoing and will continue to target commercial movements of fire ant carrier material and specific heavy vehicle types to improve biosecurity compliance.

The first wave of Operation Victa in September 2023 stopped 99 vehicles and directed seven to return to Queensland, as they failed to comply with biosecurity requirements.

In December 2023, the second wave operation resulted in 75 vehicles stopped with all vehicles found to be compliant.

The government says it is working closely with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program to undertake tracing and surveillance activities, after fire ant nests were discovered and destroyed at South Murwillumbah and at Wardell, south of Ballina.

NSW Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Regional NSW, Minister for Western NSW, Tara Moriarty said, ‘The NSW government takes the threat of red fire ants seriously and are committed to continuing to take a hardline approach to protect NSW and our agricultural industry from their impacts.

‘I thank the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the NSW Police and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for their coordinated response over the weekend,’ she said.

‘Businesses supplying and transporting potential fire ant materials need to understand the rules and we are providing information through many channels.

‘The NSW contribution to the National Fire Ant Eradication program was increased from $15 million under the former National Liberal NSW government to $95 million under our government because we take biosecurity seriously.

‘This increase in resourcing and funding has meant the NSW government’s fire ant response teams are well equipped to respond to fire ant nest sightings with the necessary urgency,’ said Ms Moriarty.

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  1. So they have checked vehicles on three occasions since September and turned back a total of eleven that were non-compliant. That suggests as many as a few hundred non-compliant vehicles have come into NSW on the days they were not checking.

    No mention of any fines for those who were going to pass through except they were stopped. And this is a hard line approach?

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Plus, just the roads. Yeahhhh one tiny strip here and there is going to really block the ants. It’s so absurd it’s laughable.

      Since by all accounts they are a real menace rivalling cane toads and rats and so on, maybe, just maybe… And bear with me here guys, we should be focusing on completely exterminating them collaboratively?

      Everything just seems so half assed nowadays, bare minimums so whoever is responsible can keep their job/promotion/fellatio/whatever and still “save money”.

      This is the perfect definition of the “This is fine” dog meme.

  2. This “hard line” $95 million commitment to halt the fire ants, is a great addition to the millions spent in the last twenty years meant to eradicate the few nests found in western Brisbane in the 1980’s.
    These claims do seem to ring a little hollow when at South Murwillumbah and Wardell nests have already been discovered, and the 5-kilometre exclusion zone seems a little ridiculous when the queens are capable of flying over fifty kilometres on their nuptial forays.
    But as we all know ‘Moriarty’ is a mastermind of great repute, at least in the fictional sense.
    We can only hope that cane-toads will develop a taste for their compatriots, ….which is just about as likely as the failed Department of Primary Industries and all the Kings Men, will ever succeed in controlling a feral species in their unrelenting determination to infiltrate.
    Cheers, G”)


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