20 November 2020 / Legislation Alert

Updated Biosecurity Requirements for Fire Ants

Changes to Queensland’s Biosecurity Regulation 2016 for fire ants came into effect on Wednesday, 27 May 2020.

These changes provide extra protection to areas that have undergone the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program's eradication activities, and reduce the chance of the pest spreading by the movement of infested material such as soil, gravel, mulch and hay.

The key changes are:

1.   2 fire ant biosecurity zones instead of 3 (zones include new suburb areas where fire ants have been found previously)

2.   new soil movement guideline clarifies how you can meet your general biosecurity obligation (GBO) when working with soil updated risk mitigation strategies to guide you when working with material that may carry fire ants (may reduce the need to apply for a biosecurity instrument permit).

Soil & Transport in Biosecurity Zones

Soil from fire ant biosecurity zones is considered high risk for the spread of fire ants.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014 everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread fire ants.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 prescribes procedures that you must follow when moving soil from a fire ant biosecurity zone. There are 2 fire ant biosecurity zones in Queensland. Refer to the fire ant biosecurity zone maps to see the boundaries of these zones or the Queensland Government’s interactive map to check if you're in a fire ant biosecurity zone.

Moving soil

To move soil from either of the fire ant biosecurity zones to a place outside the zones, you must request a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) online or phone 13 25 23.

Refer to the table below for restrictions on the movement of soil between and outside of the fire ant biosecurity zones.

Biosecurity zone 1

Biosecurity zone 2

Soil originating from a place in zone 1 can be moved to a place in zone 1 or zone 2 without a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP).

Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 1 directly to a waste facility within either zone 1 or zone 2 without a BIP.

Soil originating from a place in zone 2 can be moved within zone 2 without a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP).

You need to obtain a BIP before moving the soil to a place within zone 1.

Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 2 directly to a waste facility in zone 2. You'll need a BIP to move the soil to a waste facility within zone 1.

Download Permit

Managing soil

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 and the Soil movement guideline outlines how soil should be managed in fire ant biosecurity zones.

If you are moving soil within the fire ant biosecurity zones, you should do 1 or more of the following:

  1. treat soil before excavation
  2. take soil from depth
  3. disturb soil during or after excavation
  4. store soil appropriately.

Treating soil before excavation

Business operators should engage a licensed pest manager 2 weeks before the anticipated excavation date to:

  1. inspect the area to be excavated. If fire ants are found, report them
  2. undertake direct nest injection (DNI) of any fire ant nests
  3. treat the site with an appropriate bait in order to prevent fire ants becoming established in the area to be excavated.

At a residential property, you can pre-treat an area that is to be excavated using a household pesticide that is available in a retail store. The products used should be recognised by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) as an appropriate product for treating fire ants.

Use insecticides in accordance with the conditions of the APVMA permit, the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and in conjunction with the product's label. You can search for permits on the APVMA website.

Taking soil from depth

A newly established, or young, fire ant colony is often located in the first metre of soil. You could reduce ant activity and the risk of ant movement to another location by taking the following steps.

  1. Remove the top metre of soil.
  2. Do the necessary excavation.
  3. Replace the original top metre of soil.

Do not mix the top metre of soil with the soil being moved from the site. Keep the top metre on site, or take it to a waste facility within the fire ant biosecurity zones (restrictions apply, see table above).

This method is not recommended for areas where the soil type is soft, loamy or sandy, as fire ant nests can extend further than 1 metre below the surface in areas in these soil types.

Disturbing the soil during or after excavation

Soil that is to be taken off-site should be disturbed before it is moved to another location. Disturbing soil means undertaking 1 or a combination of the following activities:

  1. vigorously turning
  2. crushing
  3. washing
  4. screening a soil stockpile.

Storage of soil

If the soil will be stored on the property for more than 24 hours, you should use 1 of the following storage options:

  1. off-ground and covered (e.g. in a shed, under a shade cloth or tarpaulin); or
  2. on-ground, and covered, on 1 of the following surfaces:
    1. concrete or bitumen (no cracks)
    2. a barrier that cannot be penetrated by fire ants (e.g. 200 micron unperforated plastic sheeting)
    3. compacted ground (other than sand) that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product before storage.

Apply a 30cm-wide strip of insecticide containing 80g/L bifenthrin, around the perimeter of the on-ground storage area. If soil is stored on compacted ground, you should also treat the whole surface area.

Keep the treated area free of material that could form an untreated bridge to the soil.

For an insecticide registered as a horizontal or perimeter barrier for fire ants, refer to Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permit PER14317 (expires 31 December 2021).

Stockpiles of soil should be disturbed:

  1. every 21 days; and
  2. 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location


Applying for a permit

You can request a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) online or by phoning the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23.

Each BIP application is assessed on its own merits and can be refused if the movement poses an unacceptable risk of spreading fire ants.

Apply now

Keeping a record

You should keep a written record of the steps you take to ensure the soil is inspected, stored and moved correctly, including chemical treatments and / or disturbance activities. This may include:

1.   dated, written records of the measures you've taken to reduce risk and the details of where the soil has been taken from or to

2.   photographs, site plans and surveyor's records

3.   receipts and records of treatment applied by a licensed pest manager.

Keep these records for a minimum of 2 years.

Program inspectors, who conduct random compliance checks to ensure businesses and individuals are complying with fire ant movement controls, will request these records.

Penalties for not complying with movement controls apply under the Act and other relevant legislation.

More information

If you need additional support, please contact: 

Tivian Trinh
Phone 0427 246 134
Email tivian.trinh@hutchies.com.au

Other Recent Activities

View all activities
areuok-hero-about-us-1920x1280-2880w-1-.jpg
9 September / Observation

A conversation could change a life.

Today is a reminder of the importance to check in on each other and ask R U OK?

Each of us have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic differently, but it has had an impact on us all. Some of us have been unexpectedly caught behind interstate travel bans, some in extended lockdowns, some living in hotspots, some at home with their families and some away from them.

It has been a challenge for each of us to adjust to new rules and restrictions which we have never had to deal with before.

We have all adapted in our own way to help ourselves and others. We have all done our best despite much of what we knew before having changed in so many ways.

For anyone struggling, know that there are genuine mates and the broader Hutchies’ crew around, people that care about you and are ready to listen and understand.

Now, more than ever, it’s a time to connect openly – a conversation could mean a lot to someone right now.

View More
HB-CO-IntCom-Campaign-2021-08-Update-WHSMP-Gfx-LowRes-.jpg
25 August / Update

In response to feedback and ongoing reviews of Hutchies' systems, we've updated the Work Health & Safety Management Plan.

These updates better reflect the arrangements to manage health and safety on our projects. Hutchies' WHS Management Plan is used to identify project risks and the controls to be employed on site to manage those risks. 

View More
31 July / COVID-19

Lockdown announced

On Saturday morning the Queensland Government announced a 3 day lockdown period for the local government areas (LGAs) of South East Queensland (incorporating Brisbane, Gold Coast, Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton Bay, Scenic Rim, Somerset and Lockyer Valley).

The lockdown has now been extended to 4pm Sunday, 8 August at this stage. It has been announced in response to a growing cluster which started with a high school student at Indooroopilly State High School.

The lockdown is also mandatory for anyone who has been in any of the 11x LGAs since 1am this morning and is now elsewhere.

The construction industry is still considered an essential service. Sites will remain open throughout the lockdown period at this stage. Read on for further information.

Stricter lockdown measures

The Queensland Government announced the strictest lockdown measures that the state has experienced so far, due to concern of the rapidly spreading Delta variant.

There are only four reasons to leave home during the lockdown:

  • To buy essential goods / groceries, but only within 10km of your usual place of residence. Supermarkets will be open during the lockdown period. 
  • To go to essential work / school. Childcare is open but only for children of essential workers.
  • For exercise outside, but only within 10km of your usual place of residence. Only allowed to do so with one other person from a different household.
  • For health care. You can leave to get medical care and you can provide care to someone. You can also leave home to get a COVID test or vaccine.

Additional stricter measures have also been introduced to help stop the spread:

  • No visitors allowed at home. The only exception is to care for someone who needs help, but it is recommended to delay if possible.
  • Funerals and weddings limited to 10 people.
  • Mask wearing continues to be mandatory across the 11x LGAs. You must wear a face mask at all times when you leave home, including outdoors and for exercise, unless you have a lawful reason not to.
  • Mask wearing will now be mandatory for everyone at high schools, including students, teachers and visitors in the 11x LGAs.
  • Non-essential businesses must close (eg gyms / hairdressers etc).
  • Restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues can open but only to provide takeaway.

Hutchies' COVIDSafe sites

Construction remains essential in South East Queensland and it is important to ensure we are all working as hard as possible to keep it open in the face of ongoing outbreaks. All sites should urgently review the latest Hutchies' COVIDSafe Plan and ensure that their site is implementing the following at a minimum:

  • Regular cleaning of all site / office areas and high touch points
  • Mask wearing except when not safe to do so
  • Good hand hygiene
  • Maintaining 1.5m distance from others, including limiting numbers in hoists / lifts and crib / lunch rooms
  • Signing in using your sites' regular sign in process to provide contact details if required for contact tracing
  • Using video / teleconference software to hold meetings

Hutchies' offices in South East QLD

Everyone who works in Hutchies' offices across South East Queensland should be wearing a mask if they are working in an office during the lockdown period.

The Queensland Government has specified that people who can work from home should do so.

All face to face meetings in offices should be cancelled and replaced by video / teleconferences.

Hutchies' Toowong office

These instructions are particularly important in relation to the Toowong office.

The Toowong office is in very close proximity to the current outbreak.

If you can do your job from home, you must. You can go to the office to collect computer gear and anything else you might need to work from home during the lockdown period.

If you do need to go into the Toowong office, you must sign in using the Queensland Government QR code.

You must be wearing a mask at all times, including whilst seated. This is an important measure to stop the spread of airborne particles.

Exposure sites

The Queensland Government has provided an extensive list of exposure sites based on the movements of people who are linked to the Indooroopilly State High School cluster. More venues are expected to be added.

It is very important that anyone who is in, or has been in South East Queensland recently, checks the list daily.

If you have been to any of the venues of concern at the date and time identified, inform your Team Leader, get tested and follow the direction listed by Queensland Health.

View More
HB-HammerTime-Header-01-01.png
29 July / Update

Edition 1

Recent company snapshots have identified some pinch points in HammerTech utilisation. To assist, additional resources are available so watch this space for regular updates on all things HammerTech.

In this update you'll find:

View More
28 July / Training

Play the video below to see who has been crowned winner and runner up of Apprentice of the Year, Cadet of the Year and Future Leader of the Year.

View More
22 July / COVID-19

Keeping people safe

We've made some updates to our COVIDSafe Plan to incorporate the latest requirements across Australia.

All of Hutchies' sites and offices must continue to implement the key COVIDSafe measures we've had in place over the last 12 months, in addition to the latest local state / territory requirements listed below.

Some of the critical aspects of our COVIDSafe plan being focsued on include:
  • Regular cleaning of all site / office areas and high touch points
  • Good hand hygiene
  • Maintaining 1.5m distance from others
  • Signing in to provide contact details if required for contact tracing

The updates we have incorporated into our latest plan (version 4) includes:

Mandatory Check In & Sign In 

It is a requirement for everyone entering a Hutchies site or office that they sign in using our own process (ie HammerTech or Visitor Register) and if mandatory in your local state, must also check in using the government issued QR code system to assist with contact tracing if required.

Mandatory Masks

Masks are mandated in several areas across Australia presently, including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and parts of South East Queensland. Hutchies' preference is that everyone in these areas, or if you cannot socially distance, wear a mask at all times, when it is safe to do so. 

This plan must be available on your project and to your clients. You should familiarise yourself with the necessary measures and continue to implement all requirements, including completing our weekly COVIDSafe inspection checklists for sites and offices.

View More