Fire Ant Funding in Australia – An Update

Much-needed funding has been allocated to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program in Australia. 

The federal government has announced a major boost to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program (NFAEP) – an additional $268 million over four years. This new funding follows the release of the strategic review in June 2023, which concluded that eradication of fire ants would not be possible given the scope and budget of the current ten-year plan.

However, although this announcement is a significant step in the right direction the additional funding means there will still be a shortfall to the overall forecasted budget requirements of $200-$300 million per year to meet the program objectives, although the states and territories still need to commit to their share of funding the eradication.

The key long-term objective is to eradicate red imported fire ants from Australia by 2032, which the strategic report stated could still be achieved with the required investment. Given the area of infestation, there are still significant non-budgetary challenges and achieving eradication would be a world first.


Fire ant map
Proposed treatment and surveillance boundaries under the 2023-24 Response Plan
Orange: Treatment boundary (10 km from outermost detections)
Blue: Surveillance (5 km from outer treatment boundary)


This new funding is to support the recruitment of 350 new workers, the purchase of an additional 1400 tonnes of ant bait each year, and the improvement of application techniques. This will allow for a doubling of the treatment and surveillance areas.

“Without the program, fire ants would now infest around 100 million hectares in an arc of country from Bowen in the north, west to Longreach and south to Canberra. If they aren’t eliminated, these ants will quickly migrate across the country and that would cause economic, health and social impacts in excess of $1.25 billion annually, forever,” commented Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers.