Truckies are being threatened with fines of up to $1.1 million or jail if they go into NSW from Queensland without the correct paperwork.
The tough new measures are the result of a fire ant outbreak just 5.5km from the NSW northern border at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast.
Restrictions on transporting certain materials, which also include turf, fodder and mulch, had been in place for months but both states are tightening the screws, given the potential repercussions for crops, beehives and newborn livestock.
Under an emergency order, officers from Queensland’s agriculture department and the NSW department of primary industries now have the power to stop and search cars and trucks to try to prevent the now-illegal transportation of “high-risk” materials that could contain red fire ants.
In July this year, Queensland’s Agriculture Minister Mark Furner announced the National Fire Ant Eradication Program which is focusing on scaling up operations to strengthen containment and compliance and intensify program-led and community treatment using an “outside-in” approach.
The new containment area will form a horseshoe around the infestation, spanning from Moreton Bay in the north, west to the Lockyer Valley, east into the Gold Coast and south to the Tweed Shire.
Targeted treatment areas for 2023–24 will encompass suburbs comprising parts of the City of Gold Coast, Scenic Rim and Southern Downs local government areas.
The NSW Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty said the enhanced task force would ensure a coordinated approach between both jurisdictions.
“NSW has already committed $95 million over the next four years to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program, and we are throwing everything at our efforts to stop fire ants in their tracks because we know the potential impact they could have on our health, our lifestyle and our economy if they crossed the border into NSW,” she said.