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Estimates: Questions about the Fire Ants Suppression Task Force

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 2 August 2023, I asked the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries about the resourcing of the Fire Ant Suppression task force. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I was going to ask a question very closely related to the member for Gympie’s question. I was essentially going to ask the same question [how many compliance officers are employed by the department for the fire ant suppression task force] except, if it is possible, I was hoping for the department to give us a comparison of the number of officers doing this work on the ground in 2021-22 financial year, the previous financial year and forecasts for the coming year. It really is essentially the same question with a slightly wider time frame. If we are chasing after extra information, I wonder if that might be included.

CHAIR: We can come back to you, if you like, Director-General.

Dr Sarra: Sure.

CHAIR: That is the number of people there now, in the future and in the past.

Dr Sarra: If I may, I would like to get better clarity on the numbers sought by the member so that my guys can come back before the end of the session with the right numbers.

Mr BERKMAN: The member for Gympie asked about the number of compliance officers. I was hoping to get a breakdown of that for the last two financial years and then, beyond that, a forecast of how many officers will be retained by the department in this current—

Dr Sarra: Compliance officers in the fire ant program for the last two years and the forecast for the next couple of years?

Mr BERKMAN: That is right. Thank you.

Dr Sarra: We should be able to get that for you.

CHAIR: I am clarifying that it is fire ants and not just general compliance officers?

Mr BERKMAN: Specifically for fire ants, yes.

CHAIR: Member for Maiwar, are you still going?

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you. I will be done after this I promise.

CHAIR: Okay. We will let you go.

Mr BERKMAN: Again, I think this is a question for the DG, if not, for another departmental officer. Are you able to provide a breakdown of the expenditure by financial year for that $37.1 million committed to continue the Fire Ant Suppression Taskforce over five years from 2021?

Dr Sarra: I am quite certain that we can provide that. We may even be able to provide that now. I will just check with our DDG Corporate Services. Our Deputy Director-General of Corporate Services can speak to that specific question. I will put you in the hands of Justine Clark. Ms Clark: The $37.1 million—the original year was last financial year. In 2022-23 it was $3 million—I am rounding here a little—in 2023-24, $8 million; in 2024-25, going into the forward estimates, $12.2 million; and a further $13.7 million in 2025-26.

Mr BERKMAN: Thanks very much, Chair.

Read the response to the question taken on notice, provided on 2 August 2023, here

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