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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7549

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (20:37): I rise to speak in support of the motion and thank the honourable member for Gippsland for bringing this private member's motion before the House. I concur with points made by all speakers, including the member for Lyons and also the member for Parkes. It has been said that there are clear social and economic impacts of wild dogs on the grazing industry across Australia and the member for Parkes mentioned the amount of $60 million. I agree with him that would be a rather conservative estimate of the money. We know that the management of wild dogs is primarily a state and territory responsibility with local government and local management committees of varying names but the same type of responsibility involved. The Commonwealth has a place in this and has a concern about it as well, but at state level there is very specific legislation. It has been the subject of some debate in my local area this year and there has been coverage of it in the local papers, particularly in the Northern Star. There is a story about a private trapper in the shire next to mine, Byron Shire, and the success he has said in eradicating wild dogs in the region. On that issue of management and size and eradication, eradicating can be difficult in any area but it is something that we have to keep as a goal because it is something we have to be aiming towards.

The federal government has legislation to support responsibilities for managing pest animals such as wild dogs but it is through the protection of the national environmental significance areas through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Gillard government takes the issue of wild dogs seriously. The federal government contributes to wild dog research and on-ground work. It contributes approximately 40 per cent of the cost of the National Wild Dog Facilitator, funds nationally significant research and best practice projects, provides grant opportunities through Caring for our Country and has representation on various committees, including, for example, the National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group.

Turning to the issue, I want to quote from locals who get on blogs and talk about this. I have a comment here from the Northern Star blog, which is our newspaper. It says, 'It is no good being squeamish, dismissive or do-gooder over the increasing feral dog problem.' I agree. These days, due to the legal requirement for soft jaw traps and animal welfare provision, I feel that wild dogs are handled and put down humanely. But laying dog traps is only part of an integrated feral animal control approach that includes baiting, shooting and other deterrence measures, such as guard animals et cetera. I will come back to the issue of guard animals.

Dog trapping takes a lot of time and skill to do properly, so most people cannot do it successfully without extensive training. Hence pooling money from landowners for the engagement of a trapper or licensed shooter makes sense. Daytime attacks on stock and people are becoming more common as dog packs and foxes increasingly lose their fear of mankind while obtaining food by predation of stock and native fauna. That is another of the issues in my area in particular. Some people have put in control measures and some people have the guard animals, but the predation is increasing in the daytime, so even when they have managed to fix the problem at night it is happening more in the daytime.

I will quote from another comment by a local person. They use different names on the blogs, so not being funny the person I quoted earlier was called Big Bunny. This person is Horizon. Those names do not detract from the seriousness of the issue, but those are the names that people use on the blogs. These are farmers; these are landholders. They know the nature of this. Big Bunny and Horizon. Horizon is from Wollongbar. You might have seen Wollongbar in the news, because the Hendra virus has been found in one horse in Wollongbar, which is in my electorate. He says: 'Get yourself a Maremma dog or two and problem solved permanently and instantly. I had the exact same problem with foxes and domesticated neighbouring dogs on the loose in Wollongbar and tried everything. I was constantly losing sheep and goats. Local government bodies are hopeless as usual'—that is not my comment, but his—'I introduced one Maremma and the problem was solved.' (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.