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CSIRO Fire Ant Report


The purpose of the review is to ensure the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program is using a sound basis for addressing the risk of fire ants across all Australian jurisdictions and within the industries at risk of spreading the super pest, through human assisted movement. The review was conducted by an external party, independent to the program, to ensure the review was fair and impartial.

A review of the movement controls was also recommended in the Efficiency and Effectiveness review that was conducted by Bernard Wonder in 2019.

Efficiency and effectiveness review

A terms of reference document was drafted and approved by our Steering Committee in January 2020. It was then sent out to tender to various consultants with the skills and capability to conduct the review. Applications were reviewed by an internal panel based on a set of criteria established for the project. CSIRO was the successful applicant and was awarded the contract to complete the review.

The CSIRO review provides a detailed assessment of the existing fire ant movement controls, based on a risk assessment conducted by CSIRO and available scientific evidence. As a result, the effectiveness of the controls has been evaluated, and recommendations made to strengthen controls and how they are applied.

The review assesses likely scenarios of current business practices.  We are interested to know if the review accurately describes your business practices and how the recommendations may impact your business, if they were to be adopted in the future. For now, your business is required to follow the existing movement controls.

That is why we are interested to hear your feedback. We want to make sure your views are captured so we can understand what the recommendations mean to you, or your business or organisation.

We acknowledge the findings and recommendations of the review but before we consider making changes to movement controls, we want your feedback. Your feedback will be considered when reviewing the recommendations to ensure effective strategies are used to eradicate fire ants, whilst doing our best to make sure communities and businesses are not significantly impacted.

We will focus on the existing mitigation measures for materials that CSIRO believe still pose significant risk (e.g. hay). The reasons why the current controls are unsatisfactory may include the known attractiveness of the material to fire ants, the feasibility of the existing measures and the distance these products can travel. Our focus has always been to reduce the possibility of fire ant spread through human assisted movement so we can focus on eradicating this pest. However, we want your feedback on how these changes may potentially impact you, your business or industry so this can be considered in our review phase.

Yes, it may, if we think change is necessary. Ensuring appropriate measures are in place to stop human assisted spread of fire ants is one of our top priorities. Also, putting in place measures that are accepted across all jurisdictions will ensure interstate trading is maintained.

Any future changes to the legislation will require further engagement and stakeholder feedback.

No. The review will have no immediate impact on the current movement controls. Your feedback will form a key part of our review of the recommendations and findings.

Your feedback will be an important part of assessing the findings relevant to you, your business or industry, and the impact any proposed changes to movement controls may have. The opportunity for feedback is open for the next 28 days and we will collate the feedback received and use it during the evaluation of the existing requirements, what changes are required and what impact these could have.

We will review the existing movement controls against the CSIRO recommendations to identify differences. We will then evaluate the feasibility and possibility of addressing these differences.

Yes. We will undertake further consultation before any changes are implemented. Your initial feedback will provide insight into how CSIRO’s findings may impact you and your business or industry before decisions are made. 

We have developed scientific principles and practical measures that underpin the current movement controls to prevent the human assisted spread of fire ants. They are based on published scientific and “grey” literature as well as the experiences of other countries. These scientific principles are used to develop risk mitigation strategies to ensure that the risk of spread fire ants in materials is acceptably low. It is imperative that our scientific principles provide a sound basis for our mitigation measures. The CSIRO review concluded that our scientific principles are proven and quantified, with no scientific evidence to counter them. The seven original scientific principles have been rewritten into13 new principles that provide a simplified statement, followed by their scientific rationale.