Monday, July 26, 2021

Dog Fence rateable area – have your say

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Dog Fence Board, South Australia, Media Release, 17 May 2021

Have your say on the proposal to expand the Dog Fence rateable area and future- proof the Dog Fence

The Dog Fence Board, with support from Livestock SA, is seeking feedback on a proposal to expand the Dog Fence rateable area.

The proposal would include 600 additional ratepayers, increasing the annual revenue of the Dog Fence Board by $350,000.

Under the proposal, the additional income would be used to carry out a Dog Fence replacement program, in addition to the $25 million Dog Fence Rebuild Project currently underway.

The once-in-a-generation project is rebuilding the highest priority and most degraded 1,600 km of the 2,150 km long South Australian Dog Fence. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.

The Dog Fence Rebuild Project received a once-off investment from the Commonwealth Government ($10 million), the State Government ($10 million), and the livestock industry ($5 million), and will result in a Dog Fence that supports the efforts of land managers to eradicate wild dogs from inside the fence.

Once this is complete, further maintenance and rebuild work will be required. To ensure the Dog Fence doesn’t return to pre-rebuild condition again, the Dog Fence Board has worked closely with Livestock SA to review the revenue the Board receives for the inspection and maintenance of the fence. Under the current funding model, the Board inspects and maintains the fence, but is not financially able to replace the Dog Fence as it ages in the harsh outback environment.

The review carried out by The Dog Fence Board and Livestock SA identified an opportunity to expand the Dog Fence rateable area to include an additional 600 ratepayers. The expansion would bring in an additional $350,000 each year and allow the Board to carry out a fence replacement program.

Currently, the Dog Fence’s primary funding comes from rates applied to land holdings greater than 1000 hectares within the Dog Fence rateable area, and from a component of sheep sales contributed through the Sheep Industry Fund. Every dollar the Board receives through these two sources is matched by the South Australian Government.

Chair of the Dog Fence Board, Geoff Power, said “Prior to the Rebuild Project, the Dog Fence was a mosaic of different wire types, with some sections 100 years old. A lot of the fence was made from patches upon patches of mesh. We ended up with wild dogs as far south as Cleve, Burra and Morgan.

“The $25 million generously contributed by industry, and the Commonwealth and State governments for the Rebuild Project has provided the Dog Fence Board with a unique opportunity to address the long term needs of the fence.

“The Board must now look at how it can continue fence replacement beyond the Rebuild Project, to make sure the fence doesn’t reach such a condition again.

“The total revenue received by the Dog Fence Board each year is $1.17 million. This only just allows us to make sure the fence is inspected fortnightly and repaired as needed. On top of that we have to manage challenges such as sand drift and flood damage.”

The Dog Fence Board is currently seeking feedback from interested stakeholders, including current and proposed ratepayers, on the proposal to expand the rateable area.

Mr Power added, “I encourage anyone with an interest in the long-term management of the Dog Fence, whether that’s in land management and livestock production, or more generally, to comment on this proposal. The future-proofing of the South Australian Dog Fence must be one of the highest priorities for the northern areas of our state.”

Joe Keynes, President of Livestock SA said, “Livestock SA is not in favour of increasing or imposing new levies, except where there is real benefit to the industry. We believe the proposed expansion of the Dog Fence rateable area will ensure the Dog Fence Board can maintain the fence for the long term.

“It is vital that we all play our part in protecting South Australia’s agriculture industry.”

For more information on the proposed changes, and to provide feedback visit https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/dog-fence-rateable-area. Feedback is invited until 5 pm, Friday 2 July 2021.

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