WA issued ‘please explain’ over Wild Dog funds
14 September 2017
- Last week's WA Labor State Budget has an apparent $4 million black hole in the Wild Dog Action Plan budget, raising questions over WA's use of Commonwealth funds.
- Western Australia is the only state receiving Commonwealth funding to support state-based Wild Dog Action Plans.
- In 2016 the former state government announced a $19.94 million package for WA's Wild Dog Action Plan— the Commonwealth delivered an additional $3.1 million for the Plan at the request of the state, taking the total budget to $23 million.
The Coalition Government is seeking a 'please explain' from the Western Australian Labor State Government following a funding gap in the Wild Dog Action Plan in the state budget handed down last week.
Minister Joyce said he welcomed the opportunity to work with Western Australian farmers to construct wild dog control fences, but first the McGowan Labor Government must clarify the $4 million hole in the Wild Dog Action Plan budget.
"The WA Labor Budget, handed down last week, allocated a total of $18.25 million for wild dog control, which raises questions over the use of Commonwealth funds and leaves a $4 million hole in the total budget of the plan.
"What we know is, in November 2016, the former state government announced a $19.94 million package to deliver the state's Action Plan, which included a $1.03 million commitment from the Coalition Government's natural resource management funds.
"The then Minister requested $2.5 million from the Commonwealth to 'fill the funding gap' to enable the state to complete its Action Plan.
"Earlier this year the Coalition Government 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."
Commonwealth officials have not been able to obtain answers to explain this funding shortfall.
"Despite wild dog management being a state responsibility, 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," Minister Joyce said.
Meanwhile, Minister Joyce said comments made recently by the WA agriculture minister in relation to wild dog funding to Western Australia compared to Queensland, and that WA had only received $2 million for wild dog activities, 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.