Federal Member for Durack
The Turnbull Government is seeking a ‘please explain’ from the Western Australian Labor State Government following cuts to funding for the Wild Dog Action Plan in the state budget handed down last week, along with claim of bias from the WA Agriculture and Food Minister.Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price has questioned what has happened to the $4 million cut to Wild Dog Action Plan budget, and asked where the Federal funds committed to plan have gone.
“In 2016, Western Australia’s former Agriculture Minister in the Barnett Government Mark Lewis wrote to the Federal Government asking for $2.5 million from the Commonwealth to ‘fill the funding gap’ to enable the state to complete its action plan” Ms Price said.
“Then, earlier this year, the Commonwealth announced an additional $3.1 million commitment towards WA’s Action Plan, including a $600,000 component for Indigenous Rangers—that took the total WA Wild Dog Action Plan budget to $23 million as of February this year.”
“That Action Plan has now had its budget cut by $4 million, without a proper explanation of what happened to those federal funds.
The new State Agriculture Minister Allanah MacTiernan has asked the Federal Government for more money to support Wild Dog programs, whilst cutting funding to the Wild Dog Action Plan.
“This is a bit facetious by the Minister, by cutting funding to the Wild Dog Action Plan while simultaneously asking for more money for wild dog programs” Ms Price said.
Agriculture Minister Joyce said he welcomed the opportunity to work with Western Australian farmers to construct wild dog control fences but the McGowan Labor Government must clarify the $4 million cut to the Wild Dog Action Plan budget.
“The WA Labor State Budget handed down last week raises questions over the use of commonwealth funds, with a huge cut to the total budget of the plan” Minister Joyce said.
The WA Labor State Budget had slashed funding for the Wild Dog Action Plan, allocating a total of $18.25 million for wild dog control which is around $4 million less.
“Commonwealth officials have not been able to obtain answers to this funding cut question,” Minister Joyce said.
“The Coalition Government is willing to consider further ways to support farmers open up rangeland for livestock production and tackle wild dogs, but we will not be putting in more money to replace funds taken out of the wild dog control bucket by the state government, if that is what has happened.”
Meanwhile Minister Joyce said comments made recently by the WA Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan in relation to wild dog funding in Western Australia compared to Queensland are misleading and need clarification.
“Western Australia is the only state to receive funding for the implementation of the state’s Wild Dog Action Plan, receiving just over $4.1million in Federal funding for the plan, on the basis that the state government would invest almost $20 million of their own funds in the Action Plan,” Minister Joyce said.
“This funding was on top of $3.8 million the WA Labor Government received through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to fight pest animals and weeds which it could have dedicated towards fighting the scourge of wild dogs if it had presented that as the priority.”
• Wild dogs are estimated to cost our agriculture sector up to $89 million each year in direct costs through livestock losses, control measures and disease transmission. It is especially traumatic for farmers who are affected by drought.
• The Australian Government has shown an unprecedented commitment to helping limit the harmful impact weeds and pest animals have on farmers, the environment and our economy.
• The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper has invested:
– $50 million over four years to tackle established pest animals and weeds
– A further $25.8 million specifically for areas still feeling the on-going impacts of drought—the government has already rolled out $15 million worth of projects under this drought-specific funding.