Earlier this year Senator James McGrath attended the Wild Dog Exclusion Fencing Forum in St George to discuss the measures the Federal Government is taking to reduce the problem of wild dogs in rural and regional Queensland.

On 23 July 2018, I represented your Federal Liberal National Coalition Government in St George to officially open the Wild Dog Exclusion Fencing Forum.

The Forum was hosted by the Balonne Shire Council and attended by mayors, councillors, local government officers and industry representatives from across South West Queensland.

The Coalition Government and our State LNP Team are strong supporters of rural and regional Queensland. Senator Barry O’Sullivan, David Littleproud and John McVeigh toured Western Queensland in June to listen to people, including our own Ann Leahy and Lachlan Miller, about the issues that matter on the ground in places like Blackall, Charleville and Boulia – particularly in the context of the ongoing drought.

On 19 June, as a result of that tour, the Coalition Government extended the availability of the Farm Household Allowance scheme from three to four years, effective from 1 August.

We also announced further immediate relief measures worth $190 million on 5 August, including lump sums payments and funding for additional mental health services.

Another ongoing issue that the Coalition Government is assisting farmers, producers and their communities to mitigate is that of wild dogs.

Wild dogs are a significant problem in regional Australia, conservatively estimated to cost Australia’s agricultural sector nearly $90 million per year. This figure includes livestock losses, disease transmission,
and control costs.

But of course, this does not take into account the unquantifiable cost caused by the emotional impact on farmers, their families, and regional communities.

Established pest animals, including wild dogs, not only reduce agricultural productivity, they cause damage to the environment. The 2016 Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences pest and weeds survey found that, on average, property owners and operators spent $5,176 and around 28 days per year in wild dog management.

This represents over a quarter of the total amount spent on the management of all pest animals and weeds.

In addition, contractors spent an additional 16 days per year managing wild dogs.

The problem of wild dogs means less money in the pockets of our primary producers and less time spent with their families. It hurts not just the producers and their loved ones, but also the rural communities that they are a part of.

That is why it is critical that all levels of government and landholders work together to invest in strategies and technologies to manage wild dog populations.

The Coalition Government is investing in pest animal management through a range of programs and agencies – including $26 million dedicated specifically for wild dog management from 2014-15 to 2021-22 – through a variety of funding channels including the 2015 Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Coalition Government has allocated, over four years:

  • $50 million to improve the tools, technologies, skills and knowledge that farmers and the community need to tackle established pest animals and weeds; as well as
  • $25.8 million to tackle pest animal and weed problems in drought affected parts of the country.

In terms of wild dogs, in some regions, funding has flown directly to baiting, trapping and shooting
activities.

In Queensland, the Coalition Government has helped build more than 4,500 kilometres of cluster fencing built across the Central-West and South-West regions of the state. This $13 million investment has helped 300 properties across more than 3 million hectares.

High integrity fencing has become necessary for graziers to protect their livestock and better manage wild dogs. Fencing helps to protect stock – as well as native animals – from wild dog attacks and allow farmers to increase their livestock numbers, adding to their overall productivity.

Farmers have benefited already from improved stock management and increased profitability through assistance for regionally-based and managed regionalscale pest and weed management projects.

Previous investments in wild dog exclusion fencing have led to significant increases in lambing rates. A cluster fencing project North- West of Quilpie in Queensland has shown what can be achieved.

Previously, graziers were experiencing lambing rates of 30 per cent or less prior to wild dog exclusion fences being constructed. Now, the rate of successful lamb births has jumped to over 80 per cent in these areas.

On 10 July, David Littleproud announced a further $7 million of funding for 2018-19 to help Queensland producers and graziers manage wild dogs.

This is part of a $9 million package to manage established pests and weeds in drought affected areas.

Local councils in drought affected areas will be able to apply for a share in the funding, and timing of submissions will be announced in due course.

During drought, farmers’ ability to manage these pests and weeds is significantly reduced at a time when already stressed pasture and livestock are under attack.

Our most recent additional investment aids our $60 billion agricultural industries and drought-affected communities, with fence construction also providing local job opportunities.

This funding will further help to build long-term resilience for drought affected farmers by preparing them for better seasons and future droughts through improved production.

Rest assured, the Coalition Government will provide more drought support. We will always work with other governments, landholders, and industry to support our brothers and sisters on the land here in Queensland, and right across rural and regional Australia.