Federal budget devotes $27.5 million to killing ants


In announcing the federal budget, the government has dedicated millions of dollars to eradicating three species of ants from Australia's shores.

It didn't feature in Treasuer Josh Frydenberg's budget night speech, but it turns out the government has set aside at least $27.5 million to target three separate ant related issues.

The largest of these issues is Red Imported Fire Ants, with Mr Frydenberg bringing forward $18.3 million originally earmarked for 2012-22 over three years to support the "immediate commencement of fire ant eradication".

Watch out: the budget has allocated millions to eradicating the Red Imported Fire Ant.
Watch out: the budget has allocated millions to eradicating the Red Imported Fire Ant.

An invasive species, Red Fire Ants - also known as Solenopsis invicta - are highly aggressive and have a venomous sting used to kill their prey.

According to the Invasive Species Council, if not eradicated the "impacts of red fire ants in Australia will surpass the combined damage done each year by our worst pests: feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads."

But Red Fire Ants aren't the only ant threatening Australia's ecosystem. 

Another $9.2 million will go towards controlling the spread of Yellow Crazy Ants (yes, their real name) in the Queensland tropics, building on a 2016 election commitment.

Also known as Anoplolepis gracilipes, the Yellow Crazy Ant is in the top 100 of the world's most invasive species.

"Yellow Crazy Ants are among the world's 100 worst invasive species and their presence threatens endangered species such as the Southern Cassowary, Mahogany Glider, Northern Bettong and stream-dwelling rainforest frogs," Minister for the Environment Melissa Price said in a March statement.

"They also present a major threat to sugar cane growers by actually protecting insects such as aphids and scales."

Norfolk Island, off the eastern coast of Australia, is also getting cash to stem the threat of Argentine Ants, one of the world's worst invasive species. 

The government will provide an extra $8.4 million over two years for services to the tiny island, which includes advancing the "response to the biosecurity threat of Argentine ants".

Argentine Ants have invaded Norfolk Island.
Argentine Ants have invaded Norfolk Island.

The 2019 Budget, released on Tuesday night just weeks ahead of the May federal election, showed the government was on track to deliver Australia's first surplus in 12 years and announced major tax offsets for low and middle-income earners.

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