More cluster fences approved in central west

Some 31 extra properties to be protected under release of latest cluster fence approvals by RAPAD


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Longreach’s Duncan and Liz Emmott were one of 31 enterprises happy to hear they had been successful in seeking funding for exclusion fencing, when the Remote Area Planning and Development Board announced its latest funding approvals.

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The map shows the extent of cluster fencing activity in the central west.

The map shows the extent of cluster fencing activity in the central west.

Longreach’s Duncan and Liz Emmott were one of 31 enterprises happy to hear they had been successful in seeking funding for exclusion fencing when the Remote Area Planning and Development Board announced its latest approvals this week.

Seven clusters – Way out West, Barcoo South, Southern Dandaraga Road, Arrilalah, Stamford, Strathdarr, and part of Wild Horse – will receive subsidies towards the erection of fences under round two of the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative.

They are the result of deliberations that have taken place following Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s announcement of a further $5m towards fencing to manage wild dogs last May.

RAPAD received $2,350,000 from the fund, while South West NRM was allocated $2,164,400; and $485,600 was received by the Maranoa Regional Council.

South West NRM is now accepting applications for the next phase of its cluster funding, with applications to close on April 21.

Duncan Emmott is part of the five-property Arrilalah Cluster south of Longreach and said he was looking forward to having the diversity back in his business that fencing would enable.

He has shorn up to 21,000 sheep at Whitehill but was discouraged by the price of wool.

As it got drier through the 2000s, Duncan made the decision not to replace his wether flock as mobs were progressively sold off, until he was out of sheep altogether.

“I’d thought about getting back into them but had heard about the trouble others were having with dogs and thought I didn’t need the hassle.

“We’d not seen a dog at Whitehill until about six or seven years ago when all of a sudden they turned up in packs.

“Fences seem to be having a good effect in other areas so we hope it will for us too.”

The cluster he belongs to ran 41,000 sheep in 2006, averaging 75 per cent of lambs. Those numbers are down to 5000 sheep and a 25pc lambing this year.

The Arrilalah cluster alone hopes to bring 33,000 sheep back to the enclosed properties and nearly $400,000 in wages.

Duncan has 40km of fencing to construct, starting from scratch, and he hopes that the cluster will be complete by the end of 2018, depending on seasonal conditions.

As a participant in the Longreach Regional Council $18m loan scheme, the RAPAD funding will lower the amount of money he and Liz need to borrow under that.

“Even without the RAPAD funding I think a lot of people will be going ahead with fencing,” Duncan said. “History tells you interest rates have got to go back up one of these days.”

The RAPAD board unanimously supported the recommendations of its independent technical committee in approving the funding to seven clusters designated priority one areas.

Chairman Rob Chandler said not all applicants had been able to be funded, and he said the board would be approaching the state government, Gregory MP Lachlan Millar, and wild dog fence commissioner Vaughan Johnson to lobby for additional funding for those who missed out, and for others who might now want to fence.

The combined rounds of RAPAD cluster fencing has so far resulted in 23 clusters forming, containing 113 properties and building 2563km of fencing.

It’s also brought out a private contribution of $17m from applicants.

The RAPAD subsidy is for a maximum of $2700 per kilometre, towards costs of around $7000 a km.

RAPAD round two cluster facts: 

  • 31 producers
  • Will fence 794km and protect 396,473 ha from wild dogs
  • Will see a $6.43m private contribution or a 293pc ROI for government
  • Will see sheep numbers grow from 103,552 to an expected 239,129, an expected increase of 135,578
  • Will generate an expected $2.87m in direct shearing, crutching and lamb marking wages per annum
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