The detection of Red Imported Fire Ants in South Murwillumbah - just 13 kilometres from the Queensland border - is a serious concern not only for the agricultural sector but the broader community and the environment.
These nasty pests are highly aggressive, and their stings cause a painful, burning, itching sensation for up to an hour - the experts say multiple stings give a sensation the body is on fire.
Over the past weeks, months and years, NSW Farmers has raised the risk of Red Imported Fire Ants with the NSW Government and implored them to work with the Queensland Government to apply effective movement compliance, monitoring, and enforcement of restrictions.
The sad fact is Red Imported Fire Ants should have been eradicated before they escaped into NSW - as we have eradicated them in the past - but ineffective management in Queensland in this event enabled them to become established and then spread.
The entry of Red Imported Fire Ants into New South Wales demonstrates why we have called for increased biosecurity planning and actions for many years. Not only do we need funding to ensure incursions of any exotic pests are eradicated or appropriately managed, but there must also be stronger border biosecurity controls to prevent the entry of other pests and weeds.
Red Imported Fire Ants pose a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of people, livestock, agricultural equipment and the natural environment, which is why we are demanding containment and eradication not only in New South Wales, but in Queensland where this all started.
This incursion just weeks before Christmas will have consequences not only for an agricultural sector that is enduring tough economic times and weather conditions, but also for the thousands of families who flock to the beach for the summer holidays.
We call on everyone to comply with all directions and restrictions introduced by the NSW Government, to not only safeguard ourselves, but also each other.
By doing the right thing, we can work together to keep these pests contained so that they can be eradicated.
- Xavier Martin, NSW Farmers president