Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 04, 2022


Dog Fence

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (15:05): And, sir, I would seek your support and protection from these nasty barbs being sent across the chamber at me.

Members interjecting:


Members interjecting:

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Sir, the Hon. Ms Lensink is casting aspersions at my dressing style.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Mr Hunter, sit down for a second. The Hon. Mr Hunter will ask his question and be heard in silence, and the answer will be heard in silence. The Hon. Mr Hunter.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: New rules?

The PRESIDENT: No, they're not new rules.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr President, for your protection.

The PRESIDENT: They're the age-old rules. The Hon. Mr Hunter.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr President. My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the council on the current dog fence repairs?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:06): I thank the honourable member for this very important question, and I'm delighted to inform the council on the progress of this vital piece of infrastructure. The dog fence is 5,400 kilometres long and protects the sheep industry from wild dogs and dingoes. The fence stretches across South Australia from the Great Australian Bight near Fowlers Bay, borders New South Wales and then turns north and east across Queensland to the Darling Downs.

The South Australian dog fence was established under the Dog Fence Act of 1946 to stop dingoes migrating into land used for sheep production. More than two-thirds of the South Australian dog fence is more than 100 years old. Over time it has been damaged by kangaroos, emus, feral camels, wild dogs, weather events and sand erosion. The dog fence protects South Australia's $4.3 billion livestock industry, which is why it is so important that the fence is repaired when necessary.

This current project will improve a 2,150-kilometre barrier that stretches from the Great Australian Bight to the New South Wales border. Each section is designed and built to suit the terrain, type of ground and pressure from wild dogs and other wild animals. Over the past 15 years wild dog numbers have significantly increased and continue to invade the sheep zone in South Australia. To manage these challenges there is a need for constant communication between the state government, Dog Fence Board and Livestock SA about which sections need to be prioritised for repairs.

The fence rebuild is due to be completed by June 2024. An independent economic analysis shows that by replacing sections of the 100-year-old fence the state will benefit in many ways. The analysis done shows that reducing the impact of wild dogs could create a net benefit to the community of between $56 million and $112 million over a 20-year period. This is yet another reason why this government is committed to completing this project.

The large rain event in mid-January impacted about 1,000 kilometres of the dog fence, with 25 kilometres of the fence destroyed in 40 separate breaches. Temporary repairs to the fence are complete, with around one-third of the 25 kilometres destroyed having been rebuilt to the new standard. One-third is temporary and will be fixed through the rebuild program, and one-third has been temporarily repaired and will need to be rebuilt by the Dog Fence Board. The funding of the rebuild will be done by contributions from the commonwealth, the state government and from the livestock industry.

Local dog fence boards have contractors who patrol the fence every 14 days to undertake repairs, place poison baits along the fence line and destroy dogs in the vicinity of the fence. The Dog Fence Board inspects half of the fence every year to identify sections that need updating or replacing and prioritise capital works.

The Malinauskas Labor government will continue to ensure that this project gets the funding and attention it needs to complete this project as quickly as possible and looks forward to bipartisan support in this chamber and the other one for this important project.