Mayor questions Govt help

LOCKYER Valley Regional Council Mayor Steve Jones has expressed concern at the level of help the State Government is providing with the outbreaks of fire ants spreading to the region and the potential risk of Hendra virus coming to the region.

“A few years ago we had a strong campaign in council about fire ants,” Cr Jones said.

“This was at a time when they were only around Ipswich, near the cemetery in the town and weren't out at Rosewood yet.

“I said we needed to do everything possible to stop it and by constantly moving palettes and things on the ground with dirt it has been hard to control.

“We want everything done from a government perspective to stop it getting here and the Department of Primary Industries reassured us in a council meeting about four years ago that action would take place.

“Now we have them at Mulgowie which is an important horticultural area... this is our lifeblood and we are still trying to recover after the flood.”

Cr Jones said there were originally three separate outbreaks around Brisbane.

“I am concerned about the lack of resources and the threat of them spreading further, which they will,” he said.

“The problem with this government is, all effort that was originally put forth to stop an exotic pest has now got people throwing their hands up in the air.

“Now with the Hendra virus they have declared it as endemic and there are no movement restrictions.”

Biosecurity Queensland is continuing to monitor at least 83 horses potentially exposed to Hendra virus in six locations throughout the state.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said it would take three rounds of negative test results to clear each property of Hendra virus infection.

“We will then release the quarantine. This takes around 35 days from the time the property was quarantined,” Dr Symons said.

The mayor also questioned whether this was the same story with the fire ants.

“What will happen now? Resources are run down so badly,” he said.

“We used to have stock inspectors walking around patrolling at all major shows.

“I had to make two calls to the minister (Tim Mulherin) before they could even send a few vets out, which they did in the end and we got advice from them.

“Up until last Tuesday, they were telling us to get info off the website.

“I told them we are running a show over here with 1600 horses involved and we want a person to come out and advise us.

“It is not a kid's pony club.

“I believe we do have a big problem in biosecurity and there really is not sufficient resourcing.

“The thing that worries me is that if we have another disaster and it continues to spread – they will point fingers at councils.

“Both have human health risks and a certain number of people do die with Hendra and people have died from fire ants overseas become seriously ill.

“They are everywhere over in the States and can't be stopped.”

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