Two and a half years into the term of this Labor Government and the Minister’s much touted Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee has still not been appointed, let alone had a meeting, which is a complete failure of East Gippsland farmers, according to Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“It did not take the Minister long to sack the previous effective Wild Dog Advisory Committee that included several landholders from East Gippsland, but unfortunately the Minister’s new committee, announced with much fanfare, remains non-existent,” he said.
“On top of this, the previous effective committee had six landholder (farmer) representatives with three from East Gippsland, but the new committee has had the farmer representation halved, the Minister’s explanation being that this new committee would be ‘higher level’.
“At the time of announcing the new committee, the Minister said ‘We're putting farmers and community input at the centre of wild dog management across Victoria’ – but then cut farmer representation from six to three in a classic case of say one thing, then do another.
“How this city-centric government believes this structure can be effective in rural areas without rural landholders having strong say is beyond me, or anyone, I would suggest,” he said.
“In a further insult to farmers who are losing stock, one of the landholder positions is to be taken by a “dog welfare” expert. I would have thought the welfare of sheep, calves and native animals was the highest priority here.
“In yet another complete botching, the Minister proudly announced some time ago the new committee would be chaired by Labor Upper House MP, Harriet Shing.
“Comment was made at the time over doubts she would have ever seen a wild dog and not surprisingly this rushed announcement resulted in her realising this was something she knew nothing about and resigned before the committee even met once, citing she was ‘too busy’.
“So the current situation is – here we are two and a half years into this government with winter arriving, the time of year when the dogs come down from the high country to the low country because of the cold and start to impact on stock more consistently – and we still don’t even have a wild dog committee of any sort
“The Minister should be ashamed of her complete botching of this and disregard for the farmers of East Gippsland.
“She should not have sacked the previous committee in the first place. However, if she was going to, she should not have made any changes until she had a new structure ready to be rolled out.
“To have this long period of non-action is not acceptable to anyone. The Government needs to lift its game and get a committee in place as soon as possible,” Mr Bull said.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017