Australian program to eradicate red fire ants is a ‘shambles’, Senate inquiry told

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Impact of the invasive species could be worse than that of rabbits, cane toads, foxes, camels, wild dogs and feral cats combined, committee hears

A Senate inquiry into the spread of fire ants in Australia has heard that the government program tasked with their elimination is an “absolute shambles” and that an independent eradication body is urgently needed.

The highly invasive insect is believed to have entered Australia in the 1990s and was discovered at Brisbane port in 2001. A program spanning state, territory and federal governments was created to eradicate red imported fire ants and it has received more than $1.2bn of federal and state funding. Of that, $593m covers 2023 to 2027.

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