Weeds, wild dogs in the sights of Coalition's Queensland funding

Rural Queensland has been hung out to dry says Australian Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud.
Rural Queensland has been hung out to dry says Australian Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud.

Queensland graziers in drought-affected areas are set to benefit from a $9 million boost in funding from the Coalition Government to help manage pest animals and weeds at the same time as Queensland’s Labor Government continued to slash budgets.

Liberal National Party Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett  and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud in Roma welcomed the announcement of $7 million in federal funding to fight wild dogs and $2 million in weed-control funding.

“We’ve already seen the significant benefits wild dog fencing can bring to regional communities with the more than 4,500km of cluster fencing leading to a resurgence in the Queensland sheep industry,” Mr Perrett said.

“Investing in cluster fencing works, and that’s why it was such a slap in the face for farmers to see Labor slash funding for wild dog fencing by half in the latest Queensland budget.*

“This is yet another Palaszczuk Government cut to agriculture following their slashing of 40 frontline staff from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries since they came to government – including cuts to Biosecurity Queensland.

“These staff cuts hurt even more when you consider Labor’s hiring spree of an extra 25,000 public service positions since 2015 - none of which appear to have been employed to help farmers.”

Dog fencing is a state government responsibility yet the federal government has had to invest millions in dog fencing in Queensland because the state government has seriously under invested in this program

Australian Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud

“Especially at a time when Queensland continues to wait for this Government to deliver its long overdue Parliamentary Report into the impact of invasive weeds, let alone actually fund actions to prevent these costly biosecurity incursions,” he said.

Mr Littleproud said the funding was about building long term resilience for drought affected farmers by preparing them for better seasons and future droughts through improved production.

“Dog fencing is a state government responsibility yet the federal government has had to invest millions in dog fencing in Queensland because the state government has seriously under invested in this program,” Mr Littleproud said.

“In their latest budget, the Queensland Labor Government also slashed pest and weed funding by half – right when farmers need it most.

“The Queensland Government has proven yet again it will leave rural and regional Queenslanders hung out to dry, especially in times of need.”

The Queensland Government has proven yet again it will leave rural and regional Queenslanders hung out to dry, especially in times of need

Australian Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud

Mr Littleproud said a cluster fencing project northwest of Quilpie in Queensland has shown what can be achieved.

“Before the cluster fences, farmers said they were losing sheep and experiencing lambing rates of 30 per cent or less. After the fences were put up lambing rates bounced back to over 80 per cent,” he said.

“This funding will also help local producers and graziers fight insidious weeds like Prickly Acacia and Parthenium found in central and southern Queensland.

“Parthenium, regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia, grows best in drought areas, as it competes with crops for nutrients and is toxic to cattle.”

Mr Littleproud said local councils in drought affected areas will be able to apply for a share in the funding and the timing of submissions will be announced in due course.

The $9 million in funding is on top of our $50 million commitment in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper for established pests and weeds nation-wide. As part of the White Paper a further $25.8 million was allocated specifically for pest and weed management in drought-affected areas.

Fast facts:

·This funding is on top of $6.6 million announced in the recent Federal Budget to continue the fight against established pests and weeds.

·Every year established pest animals and weeds cost our farmers in excess of $4 billion in livestock losses and weed management costs.

· Wild dogs alone are conservatively estimated to cost the agricultural sector up to $89 million per year.

·The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper has invested:

· For more information on the Ag White Paper visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au or agriculture.gov.au/pests-diseases-weeds for established pest animal and weed funding.