Mr COULTON (Parkes-The Nationals Chief Whip) (20:32): I too rise this evening to speak on the motion of the member for Gippsland on the impact of wild dogs. I acknowledge his contribution and his genuine concern about this issue, and I also acknowledge the contribution of the member for Lyons and his long interest in this issue in this place.
This is not a minor problem. Wild dogs, as the member for Gippsland said, have an impact in excess of $60 million annually-and, quite frankly, that is a conservative estimate. Like the member for Lyons, I believe we have seen a quite remarkable decrease in funding, but, probably more important than that, we are actually seeing a change in focus on the way wild dogs are managed by different agencies and the Invasive Animals CRC. Particularly in a lot of our national parks, there is more of a focus on management of size-of numbers-than on eradication, and that is presenting a real problem. There is a lot of concern about the welfare of these wild dogs and the suffering that may be caused to them through trapping or baiting but very little focus on the pain and suffering or the welfare of the livestock they attack.
I do not come to this place without some knowledge of this. Indeed, some years ago we had one wild dog that came into the vicinity of our property. From memory, it took three months before my brother finally located this dog and shot it early one morning. The amount of damage that that one dog inflicted on our livestock was horrific, and not just on the ones that were killed. On one occasion we found a dozen prime lambs that had been driven into a dam and drowned. We saw sheep with their muzzles chewed off. Many sheep-more than dozens-had pieces chewed out of them in a feeding frenzy. So I know first-hand the pain and suffering that these dogs can inflict.
The problem we have is that a lot of the focus now from the CRCs and others is in putting barriers up for protection, with no disrespect to my learned colleague from Lyons, with maremma dogs and alpacas; and a lot of the focus has gone away from baiting. There is a campaign at the moment to move away from 1080 poison, which has been a very effective bait for many years. There is one source in the world that produces 1080 and there is a concern that the ongoing supply of 1080 is at risk not only for wild dogs but for rabbits, foxes and feral pigs. There is a real concern about that. I know that in national parks in lots of the Eastern Fall country in New South Wales rather than baiting to eliminate the dogs they are placing the baits at such large intervals apart that those dogs are not finding the baits or there are not enough baits to handle the number of dogs that are coming through. This is a problem not only in what we would consider the traditional sheep grazing areas but I know that in western Queensland in the south-west corner across millions of acres sheep are no longer run. The reports coming through now are that the cattle are at risk; that calves are being taken at birth. There are anecdotal reports that dogs are being relocated from places like Fraser Island and released in national parks in western Queensland, to be taken away from the human population, but exacerbating the problem in the west.
I support this motion. This is not a trivial matter, it is a serious economic matter, but it is also an animal welfare matter to the livestock right across Australia that are impacted by wild dogs. (Time expired)