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Dingo fence on Fraser Island criticised -

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Dingo fence on Fraser Island criticised

The World Today - Tuesday, 6 May , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ELEANOR HALL: It's almost complete but a fence designed to keep dingoes away from people on Fraser
Island is still attracting controversy.

Building was stopped on the weekend. And traditional owners who say the construction has disturbed
culturally sensitive areas, have applied to the Federal Government to halt the work permanently.

But the Queensland Government says its business as usual again today and that only a few finishing
touches are needed to the $750,000 fence.

Donna Field has our report.

DONNA FIELD: In 2001 nine-year-old Clinton Gage was killed by two dingoes near a campsite on Fraser
Island.

The horrific death forced the State Government to take urgent action against dingoes who'd begun to
stray too close to people and had lost their fear after being hand fed by tourists.

The first response was a shoot on sight policy with rangers killing dingoes who came into
campsites.

Next a series of fences stretching up to two kilometres to keep dingoes away altogether.

Queensland's Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara.

ANDREW MCNAMARA: The fences are practically complete there is a gate to be hung, there is some
signage and lighting, but the work at Eurong is complete and the work at Happy Valley will be
completed soon.

DONNA FIELD: But opposition to the fences remains. Over the weekend work stopped after traditional
owners raised concerns that culturally significant feasting areas or middens have been damaged.

Butchella elder Mally Clarke says it's terrible.

MALLY CLARKE: I've seen middens destroyed, I've seen all the bush destroyed just laying there. I
hate it I felt like bloody, if I had enough strength in my body I felt like pulling them fences
down.

DONNA FIELD: Mally Clarke's legal counsel made a request to the Federal Government for work to halt
at the site and for assessment of the damage.

State Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara says work did stop for a long weekend in Queensland
but contractors are back on the job today.

ANDREW MCNAMARA: I've had discussions with Peter Garrett's office today and work will continue, we
will obviously work with the commonwealth. If they have an issue of concern we will deal with it.

DONNA FIELD: The traditional owners will meet with Queensland Government representatives later
today to discuss their concerns.

But not everyone is opposed to the fences. Marie Wilkinson is also a Butchella elder and says she
didn't like the idea originally but has come to realise it's the only way.

MARIE WILKINSON: Any dingo that comes anywhere near the thing, which they have been doing like in
the resorts and sniffing around the communities and once they're reported, well the rangers, the
people have got to go out and kill them. You know like the rangers and that, because they become a
menace as far as they're concerned, you know looking for food and then they start following the
tourists and the terrible thing that happened to that little child over there.

So the fence around there, and I've been over to Kingfish quite a few times and since I've been
going there of late, there's no dingoes anywhere are near Kingfisher.

DONNA FIELD: So the fence is working?

MARIE WILKINSON: Oh it's definitely, I didn't want the fence in the first place because I think the
dingoes, the dingoes belong to the Island, you know and they're the only pure bred dingo in
Australia we've got left on the Fraser Island there.

And there's so many, unaccountable things that's happening with tourists and everybody else that's
there, there's been others feeding them too, well a lot of the people over there don't want the,
the other people over there don't want the dingo fence but I think the dingo fence will save our
dingoes.

ELEANOR HALL: Fraser Island Elder Marie Wilkinson ending Donna Field's report.