Large scale tents are placed around buildings when the specialised fumigation takes place. This picture of West Indian drywood termites was taken Manly.
Large scale tents are placed around buildings when the specialised fumigation takes place. This picture of West Indian drywood termites was taken Manly.

Pricey pest problem: Council needs State to take on termites

THE council is in a race against time to rid two historic buildings of a type of termite which is considered a biohazard.

This is because the West Indian Drywood Termites not only pose a threat to the structure of the buildings but also the development of the Gatakers Creative Space at one of the sites -331 Kent St, is subject to a Federal funding grant which comes with a requirement for the project to be delivered by a December 2021 deadline.

Work on the project, which will see the development of a printmaking, drawing, ceramics and studio space with a small shopfront to sell local artists’ work, complimenting the

activities in the already existing at Gataker’s Artspace, can’t begin until the termites are gone.

The problem is – the specialised fumigation is usually paid for and contracted out by the Department of Agricultural and Fisheries and they’ve pressed pause on the relevant program.

While the department has granted permission for the council to hire the approved company directly, it would come at a cost of more than $250,000.

The pricey problem was flagged at this week’s council meeting which heard the termites had long been a problem in the Portside Precinct and the cost of extermination had always been covered by the State Government.

Mr Diehm said he’d recently spoken with Maryborough’s MP Bruce Saunders who was confident he could still get this to occur.

It could however mean a wait of a month or more.

Councillor Denis Chapman wanted the preservation of the buildings to be treated as a priority as the more damage, the more difficult and expensive it became to fix.

He said the termites “aren’t going to knock off for Christmas” and “the sooner we do the project the better”.

The CEO said he had “faith in the local member” and expected a response soon.

Ultimately, the councillors voted in favour of a motion which gives the CEO the authority to have the fumigation bill covered in the council’s 2020/21 Operational Budget if needed.

The motion also covers an acceptance from councillors that because of the “specialised nature of the services that are sought and only one supplier being available in Australia to undertake the fumigation works”, the council can enter into a large scale contract with a company (Rentokil) without going through the usual process of first inviting written quotes.

This will only be actioned should Mr Saunders be unsuccessful in unlocking the state money with urgency.

The second building which requires specialised fumigation is the Heritage Centre at 164 Richmond St.