Ensuring the life of SA’s Dog Fence into the future

Consultation with landholders south of the South Australian Dog Fence is being undertaken on a proposal to increase the number of ratepayers contributing to the upkeep and replacement of the fence.

Wild dogs pose a severe threat to South Australia’s $4.3 billion livestock industry and at greatest risk is the state’s $1.5-$2 billion sheep industry inside the Dog Fence.

The South Australian Dog Fence is undergoing a once-in-a-generation rebuild with the South Australian livestock industry ($5 million), the Government of SA ($10 million), and the Commonwealth Government ($10 million) pooling funds to rebuild the most deteriorated 1600km of the 2150km long fence.

The Dog Fence Board and Livestock SA have partnered to establish a long-term vision for the management of the fence with the aim of addressing replacement requirements beyond the 1600km Dog Fence Rebuild project.

SA Dog Fence Board chair Geoff Power said key to achieving this was a fair and equitable rates system.

The Board receives an annual income of $1.73 million from annual dog fence rates, the Sheep Industry Fund, and the Government of South Australia.

In total, $560,000 of this income is derived from a five-year increase to annual Dog Fence rates contributing to the Dog Fence Rebuild Project. This is due to expire at the end of the rebuild project in June 2024.

Mr Power said the remaining income of $1.17 million was invested in the inspection and maintenance of the fence and access tracks, and destruction of wild dogs in the vicinity of the fence.

“Under this funding model, the Board does not have the capacity to invest in the replacement of the Dog Fence at the end of its serviceable life,” he said. 

“Maintenance costs amount to $1.14 million a year, leaving a balance of $30,000 for a 2150km long fence.

“We believe it is prudent a rateable area is now appropriate and landholders who own 10sqkm or more of land in the new areas should contribute $245 a year. Rates are payable regardless of land tenure.

 “That will bring in an extra $170,000 a year, with every dollar received matched by the SA Government, to give us $340,000 for capital expenditure.”

Mr Power said station country landowners in the current rateable area would continue to pay $2 per square kilometre with a minimum rate payable of $475.

“At the completion of the Dog Fence Rebuild Project in June 2024, the two-tiered model is proposed to be replaced by a single rate that would apply to all landowners in the rateable area,” he said.

Mr Power said the consultation process ends on July 2 with the refined proposal submitted to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham for consideration.

“The 1600km fence rebuild project is gathering momentum with 169km finished across to the NSW border, and with three additional sections of the rebuild well underway,” he said.

Mr Power said confidence was returning with properties previously unable to stock sheep due to wild dog activity were now moving back to wool growing.

“I believe we are making inroads into the wild dog problem with three to four properties right on the fence and able to restock with sheep again,” he said.

“In a couple of the hot spots, for example, in the inaccessible country in the northern Flinders, landholders are showing confidence and restocking with sheep.

“We can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal but we are making inroads into the problem. We cannot be complacent and continue both ground and aerial baiting, and tracking programs.”

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes said Australian and South Australian Governments with the sheep industry are investing $25 million to rebuild the fence.

“There is a need to continue investment to maintain the fence so it doesn’t depreciate over time and become substandard again,” Mr Keynes said.

“Livestock SA supports the expansion of the rateable area to ensure the appropriate funding is available to meet that aim.”

Caption: The SA Dog Fence Board and Livestock SA have consulted with landholders over a funding proposal to raise additional funds for maintenance on the 2150km fence. 

For more information on the stakeholder consultation visit https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/dog-fence-rateable-area


National Wild Dog Action Plan Communications Coordinator Kim Woods T: 0499 77 2860 E: kim@outcrossmedia.com.au