AUSTRALIA’s pest control system, which was launched nearly three decades ago, is being upgraded and the nation is spending billions to upgrade the equipment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says.

Key points:The ABS says there are more than 100,000 pests in Australia, and that there are now over 1,400,000 people living in areas affectedThe system is in its final stage of development and the ABS says this could lead to a cost increaseThe ABS also said there was more than 1,100,000 households in areas where there were pest infestations, with many living in low-income areas where the population was growing.

“We have been in the process of upgrading our pest control systems since the mid-1970s, and over the last decade the cost of our systems has been rising,” ABS Assistant Director of Operations, Scott Wilson, told ABC News.

“This is the final stage in our upgrade and we expect the cost to rise by at least $500 million over the next two years.”

Mr Wilson said the final cost would depend on the type of pest control equipment used.

“If we are using more accurate equipment, we would expect the final price to be in the region of $5.5 billion, which is about half the cost per square kilometre that it was when we started,” he said.

The upgrades would mean pest control costs could drop significantly in the short term, but would also put pressure on the state government to increase funding.

“There are about 400,000 residents living in those low-rise communities in Sydney and Melbourne who are facing pest problems,” Mr Wilson said.

“A new system would cost an estimated $5 billion per year.”

The Victorian Government says it would be “highly likely” to have to increase the rate of its funding to help deal with the impact of a higher cost of pest management.

“That’s because we have more than one million homes in those areas where we’ve had pest problems, which means that we’ve got to increase our pest management budgets by an average of 20 per cent per year,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said the changes were needed to improve the performance of the system.

“Our system is very good and very accurate, but we’re also very sensitive to the fact that we have to balance the needs of the people living there and the need to reduce the impact on other parts of the country,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“So we need to be mindful of that, we need better performance and that will be an important part of the ongoing upgrade of our pest suppression and pest control infrastructure.”

The ABS said the upgrade was “very expensive”, but it was part of a package of cost saving measures.

“The system upgrade will reduce the cost by about 40 per cent over the course of the next 10 years,” Mr Anderson said.