State pledges help with barrier fence

29 Mar, 2011 08:00 AM
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Mark McCrea (left), Salmon Gums, Federal Member for O'Connor Tony Crook, Northern Mallee Declared Species Group chairman Scott Pickering, Rod McCrea, Salmon Gums and National Wild Dog Committee facilitator Greg Mifsud have a look at Maremma dogs on show at the NMDSG field day.
Mark McCrea (left), Salmon Gums, Federal Member for O'Connor Tony Crook, Northern Mallee Declared Species Group chairman Scott Pickering, Rod McCrea, Salmon Gums and National Wild Dog Committee facilitator Greg Mifsud have a look at Maremma dogs on show at the NMDSG field day.

THE State Government has indicated a commitment to extend the Esperance State Barrier Fence despite the cost blowing out to $5 million.

A meeting between Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman and the Northern Mallee Declared Species Group (NMDSG) revealed the estimated cost had tripled due to hidden costs.

The additional funding is needed to investigate native title concerns, clearing and surveying costs.

Mr Redman denied there was a cost blow out and said the cost was reflective of more than five years worth of materials and resources.

"We are committed to building a dog proof fence," Mr Redman said.

"It is a four to five year process, so it isn't something we will have up and running any time soon.

"But it has been an issue for a long time.

"The dogger down there is having a positive impact, which is good."

A NMDSG annual general meeting on Friday passed the motion to make a proposal to the Shire of Esperance to secure a prescribed area rating to help raise $2 million over 20 years.

NMSDG co-ordinator Scott Pickering, who has lost up to 100 sheep in a year to dogs, said the 560km fence was a must for the Esperance farming district.

He said after meetings in Cascades, Salmon Gums and Condingup it had been unanimous they wanted the fence extended and were prepared to pay for it through their rates.

"We will take it to the shire within the next month and then try and get it in the budget," Mr Pickering said.

"It works out that $2 million dollars over 20 years is about 4pc of your rates."

Mr Pickering said he was confident of gaining the all-clear from the Esperance Shire.

The NMDSG held a field day in Salmon Gums last week with a number of guest speakers, including Member for O'Connor Tony Crook. The State Barrier Fence extension proved to be the major talking point.

Mr Crook said he would see what he could do on a federal level to try to gain some federal funding.

"The NMDSG has done very well to get where they have with Mr Redman and Wendy Duncan and I have told them if there is anything I can do to help, let me know and I will follow it through," Mr Crook said.

"I have a very strong interest in this, not just because it is in my electorate but personally I know what damage can be done.

"The damage is huge, not just for livestock and wild dogs but the damage emus and other vermin can have on crops is unbelievable.

"The fence needs to be a complete fence, it's not just about the wild dogs, it's about emus and others vermin as well."

Mr Crook said he would take the issue back to Canberra and find out what support he could gather and what he could offer.

Mr Redman said he hadn't spoken to Mr Crook since he attended the field day but was happy to work with him on obtaining more funding.

National Wild Dog Facilitator Greg Mifsud, who was at the field day, said Mr Crook seemed keen to help solve the issue.

"They were extremely genuine in relation to the issue," Mr Mifsud said.

"It's the landholders who have been pushing for the fence and I think they were very impressed with motivation from people in the area."

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