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4 September, 2020

Cluster Fencing: Now is the time to apply pressure

POLITICAL PARTIES claiming to be fair dinkum about providing an immediate stimulus to the Queensland economy have an excellent way to prove that commitment — pledge immediate increased funding to boost the strategic cluster fencing program in Western Queensland.

The program is a rare government-supported incentive that actually provides immediate benefits, delivers excellent long-term returns on investment, and develops part of regional Queensland that desperately needs, and deserves, planned and sustainable development.

The October 31 State election will provide landowners with an excellent opportunity to pressure all political parties and candidates to expand the program and increase support to landowners.

And the election will also give those wanting to form government an opportunity to put OUR money where their mouths are and back a genuine, proven job-creating regional development program.

They will also reveal their true credentials if they promise a greater contribution to the funding of the scheme, turning it into a shared program instead of one it only partly subsidises.

The government contributes about 30 per cent of the required funding with landowners being responsible for the balance.

The Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) is calling for expressions of interest from graziers interested in joining with neighbours to exclusion fence their properties.

Landholders have just two weeks, until 5.30pm on September 18, to submit their EOIs.

The whole process, from EIO to final approval, usually only takes a matter of weeks, so this is an ideal program for government to support at a time when economic stimulus is urgently required.

According to the government’s own figures, properties already benefitting from cluster fencing have seen lambing rates increase around 75 per cent and sheep numbers double.

The benefits to the landholders are immediate but the program also instantly creates jobs. The government estimates the latest $5 million funding will create 55 new local jobs.

But that number is only about the direct work created.

When the properties start producing more, jobs will flow both on the properties and with the associated activities in the region, and that, according to RAPAD, provides more stability to the community in terms of long-term work and economic surety.

Eligible landowners and groups with an interest in joining this program should act quickly and get their EOIs in. Past funding calls have been over-subscribed and a repeat would put more pressure on government to come up with a bigger and better deal.

It is in the best interests of government to make sure this program is expanded. The introduction of cluster fences produces high, immediate returns and that is exactly what landowners and governments need more of.

Controlling wild dogs is every bit as important as any other element in primary production and any government with a desire to boost the sector would promote and support the cluster fencing program in every possible way.

Now is the time for pressure to be mounted for an extension and expansion of the program. October 31 is not far away.

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