Two new Agriculture Ministers – federal representative, David Littleproud, and his Queensland counterpart, Mark Furner – haven’t got their relationship off on the best foot, if Tuesday’s activity is anything to go by.
Speaking in Charleville to announce the coalition government was making $1 million available from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper for more cluster fencing and pest and weed control, Mr Littleproud invited the state government to match the federal contribution.
He said the coalition had now stumped up $13m, against $10m from the state government.
“They try to claim they’ve put in $30 million but they’re using the loan to Longreach in that.
“It shouldn’t be counted – that’s not cold hard cash. We’re putting cash on the table.”
While he couched it in terms of a partnership, state Agricultural Industry Development Minister, Mark Furner, was quick to rubbish the suggestion, saying when it came to the Turnbull government’s commitment to wild dog fencing and rural Australia in general, they had ‘little to be proud’ of.
“The Palaszczuk government has committed more than $31 million for cluster fencing and wild dog control, and during the election campaign the Premier announced another $5 million to protect more Queensland farms,” he said.
“It is disappointing the new federal Agriculture Minister would take aim at the Queensland government’s ongoing commitment to eradicating the problem of wild dogs in southern and western Queensland, especially when he’s only coming to the table with another $1 million in funding.”
Charleville landholders present to welcome the minister said the announcement was good news for clusters attempting to remove the wild dogs trapped inside their fences, saying the money would be a helping hand.
It would also assist property owners with more marginal country that could never afford to construct a million dollar fence, according to Wyandra grazier and QDOG member, Peter Lucas.
“The fence doesn’t kill dogs, it pushes them somewhere else and that’s where we need the on-ground funding still, to support the people that are going to get the big influx,” he added.
The commitment comes from the $25.8m set aside for pests and weeds in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, set to roll out at the end of June 2019.
Mr Littleproud said it would be up to the Queensland government to decide where the money would best be spent, but said “the last thing you want is someone from Canberra, or Brisbane, deciding where the money should go”.
He said while a lot of the pressure for help were in western parts badly impacted by drought, there wasn’t a lot of his electorate, which stretches from Warwick to Winton, that isn’t drought declared at the moment.
“I’ve got the requests for dog fencing even in the Southern Downs,” he said.
He added that South West NRM and the Remote Area Planning and Development Board already had processes in place to manage the administration of the money, once it became available.