Thursday, February 8, 2024
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The federal and state governments are upping the ante in the fight against the Red Imported Fire Ant, with the delivery of 150 frontline public sector positions to combat the invasive pest.
Public sector status for 150 positions, which previously would have been delivered through contract and labour hire arrangements, will ensure the National Fire Ant Eradication Program continues to retain and attract the best workers in field-based work and increased compliance monitoring.
In mid-2023 the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments unanimously supported a new fire ant response plan, which aims to eradicate fire ants from Australia.
As the key jurisdiction in the fire ant fight, the Queensland Government has provided $37.5 million to suppress fire ants in areas awaiting eradication treatment.
Australia is the only country focused on eradication with the approach informed by a scientific advisory group consisting of international experts in their respective fields.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of Australia Murray Watt said, “by strengthening the front line of eradication, we can continue the important fight against fire ants.
“Without the National Fire Ant Eradication Program fire ants would now infest an area from Bowen in the north, west to Longreach and south to Canberra,” he said.
“By uniting to deliver a stronger workforce we can stop this invasive pest once and for all.”
AWU Queensland secretary Stacey Schinnerl added, “nobody knows more about the existential risk of the fire ant threat than frontline workers in the National Fire Ant Eradication Program.
“Over the past year, AWU members on the frontline have been campaigning for greater job security in the program.
“This is the kind of announcement that changes lives – quality public sector conditions deliver benefits like access to annual leave, better job security and easier access to bank loans.”