A $15 MILLION Federal/State funding commitment for pest control has been welcomed by supporters of a huge wild dog exclusion fencing plan in Queensland that could be copied across the nation.
Cluster exclusion fencing, baiting programs and other on-the-ground measures will get priority for $15 million in joint funding announced by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Queensland Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne.
The Australian Government has confirmed $10 million will be provided to the Queensland Government to help drought-affected farmers fight the effects of pest animals and weeds as part of measures under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. This funding will complement the Queensland Government’s own $5m Qld Feral Pest Initiative.
Remote Area Planning and Development board chairman Rob Chandler said the funding commitment was the announcement RAPAD had been waiting for, to further its $7 million Central West Strategic Fence Plan (CWSFP) for cluster and strategic linear wild dog exclusion fencing across central western Queensland.
“It’s a very good document; it gets people out building fences, including the unemployed who would be trained through a RAPAD company,” he said.
“Obviously the devil is going to be in the detail, and hopefully that is going to come out very, very shortly.”
Under the CWSFP, graziers would be required to “put their hands up” to build, maintain and own fencing, with Queensland and Federal Government monies helping to pay for materials, Mr Chandler said.
“The graziers can build it themselves, they can build it with contractors or they can build it with RAPAD Employment Services Queensland people. We have 400 unemployed on our books and we have trained them up with buggies and all the fencing gear – they are ready to go to help graziers build fences,” he said.
Central West Strategic Fence Plan can fit “anywhere in the nation”
Mr Chandler said the Central West Strategic Fence Plan was originally costed at $15 million.
“We think that is now unrealistic, and I’ve sent an email to my RAPAD directors this morning and in the first instance we will be asking for $2m from the state and $5m from the federal bucket, so $7m in total to start rolling this fencing out here.
“If we get that sort of money, we think we can put about 2 million acres behind wire and along with the private fencing that has been done, and is in the process of being done now – the graziers just couldn’t wait – we think it is going to close to 3 million acres that will be tied up,” he said.
“And it is not a one-off. The Northern Australian White Paper has got $100 million in it nationally for pest and weeds, so we will be looking to form partnerships now with people like the Australian wool industry, Australian Wool Innovation, AgForce and others to keep rolling this program out until we corral these dogs up and get rid of the nemesis.”
“The Central West Strategic Fence Plan fits anywhere in the nation,” Mr Chandler said.
The RAPAD chairman said the CWSFP could turn around the sheep flock attrition from Queensland and cut central west council wild costs that total about $3 million a year.
“This is a way to block them up and use trapping, baiting and shooting – every method know to us – to get on top of them.”
Mr Chandler said more than 20 expressions of interest had been sent in from graziers who are ‘biding their time’, ready to go after doing consultation with neighbours.
“Some of these clusters are 150,000 acres and all the cluster EOIs given to RAPAD give those graziers a real chance of cleaning their dogs out completely within the fence and getting back into full production,” he said.
Mr Chandler said there had been reports of up to 16 dogs in one paddock and heifers up to 200kg pulled down.
Queensland agrees to administer funding applications
Mr Joyce and Mr Byrne said the $10 million of federal funding had been agreed in-principle after the Queensland Government submitted a project proposal that met Australian Government requirements.
“I’m pleased to see Queensland’s plans on how they can use these funds to take actions like building fences and other controls, to protect our valuable livestock and lands,” Mr Joyce said.
“Queensland is a state still deeply-affected by drought, and we want these funds to assist producers as soon as possible.
“The Queensland Government now has the confirmation needed to put these funds to work. Officials are working together to finalise delivery arrangements as soon as possible.”
Mr Joyce said Queensland had agreed to receive and administer Commonwealth funds for pest management initiatives such as cluster exclusion fencing, baiting programmes and other on-the-ground measures.
“Cluster fencing projects, which exclude wild dogs and restrict movement to areas where they can be better managed, remains a high priority for graziers throughout drought affected parts of Queensland, and it’s a priority which I support,” he said.
Proposals encouraged under federal and state schemes
Mr Byrne encouraged eligible organisations to consider applying for project funding under both the Federal and Queensland funding schemes as part of the Qld Feral Pest Initiative.
“This initiative administers both the federal funding scheme and the $5 million in state funding, comprised of $4m over the next three years for wild dog projects in drought-affected areas and $1m for feral cat research for future management.
“I encourage local governments, regional natural resource management groups, Landcare, industry and wild dog committees to work together to develop and submit regionally agreed projects,” he said.
“By coordinating the funding being offered we can deliver more benefits, including building landholder skills and implementing large-scale pest projects.”