Since 2013, the Wet Tropics Management Authority has been managing a Commonwealth funded program to eradicate yellow crazy ants in the Cairns region. The Authority recognises that while ant numbers have been significantly reduced, at the end of this current funding the ants will not be fully eradicated. The Authority has developed a proposal seeking $5.06 million/year for three years as an initial investment into an ongoing program (potentially ten years).
In early September, staff of the Authority took the proposal to Canberra to seek support and a funding commitment. Mr Scott Buchanan, executive director, and the coordinator of the yellow crazy ant eradication program, Ms Lucy Karger, travelled to Canberra with local landholder Mr Frank Teodo.
“We met with a number of politicians from all sides of politics and we received a very positive reception,” Lucy said.
The trio met with the local federal member, Warren Entsch MP, as well as with a number of Queensland senators, including Senator Jan McLucas (Labor); Senator Glen Lazarus (Independent); Senators Larissa Waters and Rachel Siewert (Australian Greens); and Senators James McGrath and Ian Macdonald (LNP). The group also met with the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt MP, and with senior advisers from the office of the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce and the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Mark Butler MP. They also discussed the yellow crazy ant proposal with Ian Thompson (first assistant secretary Dept of Agriculture) and Malcolm Thompson (Deputy secretary Dept of Environment).
Lucy described the meetings as very positive, “All members gave us a very fair hearing and provided good advice to ensure the yellow crazy ant eradication program is successful.
“The proposal we put forward includes all the steps necessary to ensure the best chance of eradication. This includes monitoring and research, effective treatment, and community education and engagement,” Lucy said.
The trio received commitment from all who attended the Canberra meetings to continue to work with the community and the Authority to identify the funding and the partners to fully implement the proposal. The Authority has continued discussions with local and state politicians to ensure a three tier commitment can be achieved involving federal, state and local governments.
Executive director, Scott Buchanan said, the yellow crazy ant infestation in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area makes it a priority for action.
“We have an international duty to protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.
“Allowing yellow crazy ants to spread in the Wet Tropics would mean jeopardising the outstanding universal value and integrity of the World Heritage Area,” Mr Buchanan added.