CONTROVERSIAL: Biosecurity Queensland representatives and Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald hosted a Fire Ant Eradication Program info session for the Lockyer Valley community in Gatton this week.
CONTROVERSIAL: Biosecurity Queensland representatives and Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald hosted a Fire Ant Eradication Program info session for the Lockyer Valley community in Gatton this week. Contributed

Fire ant program info session leaves questions unanswered

LANDOWNERS have been left feeling "fobbed off” following a lack of quality content at a fire ant information session.

Summerholm organic farmer John Battersby attended the community session hosted by Biosecurity Queensland, and felt representatives did little to addresses his concerns.

"It was a total bureaucratic dismissal of people,” Mr Battersby said.

Earlier in January, Mr Battersby spoke to the Gatton Star about his concerns over the fire ant program - including issues surrounding agents accessing properties and the baits used for treatment.

He said these issues were not addressed at the community information session.

"We were very disappointed in the quality of the content and the way we were treated,” he said.

"We found the information poor and it was just an exercise in bureaucratic double speak - they didn't have any answers for us.”

While Mr Battersby agreed there was a desperate need to control fire ants, he said there were genuine issues with the eradication program.

The info session was organised after a spike in complaints following the latest round of bait treatments in the area - with most complaints relating to access to properties and concerns over the bait used.

Program experts fielded questions from concerned landholders, local council and politicians

Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald was one of the organisers, after receiving a number of complaints and inquires to office.

He was also in attendance at the meeting.

Unlike Mr Battersby, he believed the meeting had been very positive.

"I have had many of my concerns addressed,” Mr McDonald said.

"There was a lot of questions asked, probably a lot of questions still need to be answered for some people.”

Mr McDonald said while there were certainly concerns the community held, Biosecurity Queensland were working hard to iron out any issues and keep the community informed.

"There has been an enormous amount of consultation,” he said.

"The specifics of this treatment and program has only been developed over the last three years.”

In response to Mr Battersby's concerns about the information session, a spokesperson for Biosecurity Queensland said the fire ant team spent a "considerable amount of time” with Mr Battersby.

"The Program has been in regular contact with Mr Battersby about his concerns with treatment, bait and organic certification,” the spokesperson said.

"Mr Battersby also attended a community forum held at Gatton on Tuesday 5 February in which Program experts listened to and discussed his concerns with him at length.”

The spokesperson said Biosecurity Queensland would continue to work with landholders.

"We are working hard to educate the community about what is involved in the overall strategy of fire ant eradication,” they said.

"As well as community forums, the Program is continually conducting engagement activities to inform and encourage community participation in the eradication efforts.”

The spokesperson said if residents had any questions or concerns about Program operations they should call 13 25 23 to talk with a Program officer, or visit the website at daf.qld.gov.au/fireants


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