Dingo Control


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:30): I rise today to speak again on behalf of my constituents and other people in outback and country South Australia about the alarming number of dingoes below the dog fence. This is actually the sixth time that I have spoken here in parliament about this problem, including speeches about overabundant native species and declared pests, which is exactly what dingoes are below the dog fence. They are a declared pest. They are meant to be eradicated. It is actually a property owner's or manager's responsibility to remove dingoes, to destroy them below the dog fence.

The vast majority of pastoralists are responsible in this area and try very hard, but they are not keeping up with it. They are not keeping up with it for several reasons. The most concerning of all is the fact that so many pastoral leases are now not being used for pastoral production. That is quite reasonable in many cases. Pastoral leases are used for cultural pursuits, for mining activities, for tourism or for environmental pursuits, but the reality is that if you are a lessee of a pastoral lease you must still do everything within your power to destroy dingoes below the dog fence.

Dingoes are getting out of control. The quality of the dingo fence is always an area for concern. It is always an area that you cannot take your eye off, but that is not actually the issue at the moment. Floods come down and wash out a bit of the fence, and the fence cannot physically be accessed for a few weeks. Dogs come in, then the fence is repaired, and then the dogs are locked in.

That is the problem that we are having at the moment, following quite a few good seasons in outback South Australia, which has been very welcome and very good and positive for the environment and the pastoral industries, but it has meant that all species living wild are thriving. Positive native species are thriving, but also pests—rabbits, cats and foxes—are thriving, and also native dingoes, which should not be there below the dog fence, are thriving.

Unfortunately we are getting to the stage now where they are breeding up below the dog fence faster than they can be controlled, and more effort, more work, and more resources need to be put into this very serious problem. It is not at all uncommon. I can name many pastoralists in South Australia who have shot 10, 20 or more dingoes already this year on their properties. That is the sort of plague proportions they are in. If we do not get onto this issue, we will not have a sheep industry in South Australia—sheep for meat or sheep for wool.

There is already a very strong trend of people below the dog fence swapping from sheep to cattle for that reason, when typically it is possible to make more money out of wool than it is out of beef. They are swapping for this reason; they are swapping because they are really concerned about the dingoes. We are at the stage now where the effort that has been put into it, the good effort by many people working on this problem, those on NRM boards, local pastoralists and others, is just not keeping up with it. It is not keeping up with it because the people with pastoral leases, not using them for pastoral purposes, are not putting the effort that they need to put into their properties to address this problem, so their neighbours are all suffering.

I raise this today because I want to put to this house a suggestion that was given to me by Mr Bill McIntosh AO—a very respected person in outback South Australia, recently retired chairman, after many years, of the Outback Areas Community Development Trust and more recently the Outback Communities Authority—that a working group of pastoralists living, working and operating their businesses below the dog fence should be put together, and the government should consult with this group. We should have a small group, perhaps half a dozen people, to address exactly this issue, that represents all the geography across the state below the dog fence. We should use their knowledge, use their experience and listen to them; listen to them and find out firsthand exactly what needs to be done.

This is the sixth time I have addressed this issue in this place and through many press, TV and radio interviews, and yet the government is not responding in the fashion that is required to address this problem. So, please put this working group together, as suggested by Mr Bill McIntosh, and deal with this issue. We will not have a sheep industry in South Australia if it goes on much longer. It is perceived as an outback problem, as a pastoral problem: this will be a problem for Port Lincoln, Port Augusta, Berri and Mount Gambier if this issue is not addressed and not addressed soon. Our sheep industry cannot and will not survive with the number of wild dogs, dingoes and interbred dogs, now thriving below the dog fence.


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