THE Palaszczuk Government says it will commit a further $5 million in addition to a previously announced $4m in funding to further expand wild dog fencing in western Queensland.
Visiting Barcaldine today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a total of $9 million would now be spent on the fencing through the Wild Dog On-ground Action to breathe life into the sheep and wool industry in western Queensland.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce previously announced $10m in Federal Government funding in December.
“I visited the region and met with graziers in January,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“They told me how devastating wild dogs can be, on the top of the continuing drought.”
“This additional funding aims not to only stem the decline of sheep numbers, but boost flocks.”
Former Member for Gregory Vaughan Johnson and former Murweh Shire Mayor Mark O’Brien will also be appointed as joint Wild Dog Fencing Commissioners to support the existing oversight group within the Department of Agriculture to advise on the program.
The program operates under the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative. Funding is allocated to regional bodies (either local councils or natural resource management groups), which seek expressions of interest from landholders and decide how to proceed with agreement from the government-appointed oversight group.
Landholders provide a contribution, which can be in the form of a low interest loan from QRAA. The completed fence must be maintained by the landholder.
It is estimated that sheep profitability within a cluster protected by an exclusion fence could increase from $80/hectare to $118/ha.
Ms Palaszczuk said the program has received funding and support from the local councils and the Federal Government. She would be asking the Federal Government to also provide additional funding, she said.
“Flock numbers have declined dramatically from 17 million in 1990 to just two million sheep today,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Along with years of severe drought, the steep decline of the sheep industry have had a negative impact on regional communities in the west.
“With the protection of fencing, graziers can restock with sheep with confidence and rebound quicker once sufficient rain falls. With sheep, come shearers and additional local economic activity in towns in western Queensland.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the extra funding initiative be particularly benefit fencing contractors and agricultural supply companies in western Queensland.
“This should boost local employment in short and long-term, with a return of more shearing gangs into western towns,” she said.
Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, welcomed the additional $5m in funding and the appointments of commissioners Vaughan Johnson and Mark O’Brien, who he said he enjoyed a strong working relationships.
“The applications for funding for cluster fencing has been heavily oversubscribed,” Mr Millar said.
“I welcome the additional $5m in funding but the money needs to be made available now, not simply be allocated in next month’s state budget.”