AGRICULTURE Minister John McVeigh has dismissed local government fears over recent changes to 1080 regulations, labelling as a "furphy" the suggestion they will be forced to provide services on a commercial basis.
The first roll-out of the new baiting initiative in Murweh Shire
- offering across-the-counter selling of 1080 baits in rural supply stores - has intensified the regional councils' fears.
Balonne Shire Wild Dog Advisory Committee chairman Councillor
Rod Avery told Queensland Country Life concern was rising that farmers would be left footing the bill if the councils were "caught out" under the National Competition Policy (NCP).
"We're really worried we won't be exempt and that we'll have to charge at a comparable rate to commercial sellers," Cr Avery said.
"Most councils provide free baiting services. We give $30,000 of baited meat out in our shire alone.
"If we were to charge, I just don't know where farmers would find the money.
"We're just worried that if you put the prices up, our participation rates will go down and that's one of our biggest problems from here to Winton - participation rates."
Cr Avery was worried the state government intended to privatise baiting completely, with Queensland's 1080 supplies expected to run out within two years and no definite plan to restock.
"We [Balonne Shire Council] have put a motion into the local government conference in Mackay later this month to make sure they buy more bait," he said.
"We're really worried that they're just trying to wipe their hands of it and privatise it so it's one less thing they have to pay for."
The Dogwatch committee has previously written to Mr McVeigh expressing such concerns, but has not yet received a reply. While the department did not respond on the issue of baiting supply levels, Mr McVeigh has said combating wild dogs in Queensland required a coordinated and comprehensive approach between all stakeholders including local government.
"The suggestion that councils will now be in direct competition with retailers and be in breach of National Competition Policy (NCP) is a furphy," Mr McVeigh said.
"The fundamental principle of NCP is delivering community
Mr McVeigh said the benefit to rural communities of allowing additional access to baiting through retail selling provided "landholders with greater flexibility and opportunity to control wild dogs," reiterating that "the case for wider access to ready-to-use baits is clear".
While Cr Avery suggested councils' loss of control would make baiting harder to manage, Mr McVeigh said they would need to "step-up their work in organising and running coordinated baiting programs".
In light of the issue, Mr McVeigh said he wished to remind people
they had called for increased access to baiting.
"I am concerned that some seem to have forgotten that the QDOG committee, which includes mayors of the Murweh, Blackall-Tambo and Longreach councils, have supported the first stage of the roll-out of the new 1080 access system," Mr McVeigh said.
Cr Avery said the Dogwatch committee originally had asked for additional people with baiting licences to combat distance issues.
But he said he was now "fed up with the bureaucracy".
"It's just ended up bigger than Ben Hur with what we've ended up with," he said.
"We're starting to wish we hadn't said anything. We'll put up with the old system because it wasn't broke."