The Queensland Government will commit an additional $5million to further expand wild dog fencing to breathe life into the sheep and wool industry in western Queensland.
Visiting Barcaldine, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding would double the Queensland Government’s allocation to wild dog fencing, so critical for graziers to maintain and increase their flocks.
“In recognition of the wild dog menace, we have already committed $4 million over three years to subsidise fencing on hard-hit western Queensland properties,” the Premier said.
“I visited the region and met with graziers in January. They told me how devastating wild dogs can be, on the top of the continuing drought.
“I can announce that the Government will provide an additional $5 million to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) provide a total of $9 million for fencing through the Wild Dog On-ground Action.”
“This additional funding aims not to only stem the decline of sheep numbers, but boost flocks.”
The Premier said to support the existing oversight group within the DAF to advise on the program, the Government will appoint former Member for Gregory Vaughan Johnson and former Murweh Shire Mayor Mark O’Brien as joint Wild Dog Fencing Commissioners.
“These appointments will be vital to ensure the success of the much larger program with the ultimate goal of returning of sheep in big numbers into western Queensland,” she said.
“They will liaise with landholders and land management groups from across southern and western Queensland to assist with additional targeting guidelines.”
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.
The Premier said the program has received funding and support from the local councils and the Australian Government.
“However, I will 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. 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.”
The Government has been advised that sheep profitability within a cluster could increase from $80 per hectare to $118 per hectare.
“The extra funding initiative will be of great benefit to contractors in the west, particularly fencing contractors and agricultural supply companies. This should boost local employment in short and long-term, with a return of more shearing gangs into western towns,” she said.