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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5976


Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (17:39): I will take up a similar vein to that of the shadow minister, in relation to pest species. In particular, I note the minister's comments in relation to the productivity reform agenda. I also want to refer to the Australian Pest Animal Strategy, where it was estimated that 11 of Australia's pest animals in 2004 were costing Australian producers in the order of $720 million a year. We are talking about foxes, dogs, rabbits et cetera. The minister would be well and truly aware of the impact they are having. I note that pest animal management requires a coordinated approach of all levels of government in partnership with industry and, of course, land managers and volunteers. Some of the comments made in that strategy were:

The benefits of management should exceed the costs of implementing control.

And:

As part of an integrated pest animal management program, commercial harvesting may offset management costs.

Where I am leading to, Minister, is the Victorian government's commitment on bounties to be directed at foxes and wild dogs as part of their approach to the control of foxes and wild dogs.

I do not think I need to labour the point too much. I am sure that the minister is aware both in his role as the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and as a former agriculture minister of the enormous social, economic and environmental impact that wild dogs in particular are having in the Gippsland region and also throughout the north-east. But, given the increased value of lamb at the moment, the economic impact has become even more of a concern for producers in my region. My question is quite open ended, Minister. I am just wondering what the government's view about a nationally consistent approach is, given that obviously these species do not respect state borders. We have the state government of Victoria heading in one direction with its suite of measures, those being the bounty and aerial baiting, trapping and shooting. I would be interested to know what the government's view is about its role at a national level and also the level of funding that it anticipates will be required to do its share of the heavy lifting in that particular area—and your view, perhaps, of how you see the federal government having more of a leadership role in coordinating the wild dog control aspect in particular.