darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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August 12, 2010

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says he will fight for East Gippsland’s fair share of a $20 million program to help deal with the increasing wild dog problem if the Coalition wins the August 21 election.

The Federal Coalition has promised the $20 million Feral Animal Control Program to complement existing State Government funding.

The funding forms part of The Nationals comprehensive plan to boost Australian agriculture and ensure food security both now and into the future, according to Mr Chester.

Mr Chester recently supported a motion at The Nationals Federal Conference, urging Australia-wide action to improve the control of wild dogs and other feral animals which was unanimously passed by conference delegates.

He recently met with landowners in Omeo and the Tambo Valley where stock losses attributed to wild dogs are having a severe impact on farm businesses and community morale.

“The wild dog problem has got to a point where it is beyond the capacity of our farmers to deal with unless they receive more support,” Mr Chester said.

“Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries have reported that in East Gippsland over 3000 head of stock have been lost to wild dogs since 2005.

“The impact of wild dogs is taking a massive toll on the economy and the welfare of farmers. The environment is faring no better, with our native fauna suffering.

“The wild dogs don’t recognise state borders and we need a concerted national approach to help tackle the problem.”

Mr Chester said The Nationals in Coalition would also provide:

* $150million over three years for increased Research and Development for primary production; and
* Grants totalling $50 million over four years for farmers undertaking water-saving activities for stock use.

Mr Chester said The Nationals understood the need for a strong agriculture sector and would work towards ensuring that Australia’s food and fibre producers continued to be the best in the world.

He said a full-time Cabinet Minister for Agriculture, Food Security, Fisheries and Forestry would be appointed to deal first-hand with the issues impacting on local farmers.

“We have to make sure that we look after our farmers to allow them to continue to produce the outstanding food that we have come to expect in Australia,” Mr Chester said.

“Research and development is a key component of any food security plan, yet Labor has a track record of slashing agriculture research and development funding at both a State and Federal level.

“The Nationals in Coalition will focus on this important area and look at the agriculture industry and how we are going to meet the nation’s food needs into the future.

“Our support for Exceptional Circumstances support will continue, however, when the drought is behind us we will examine options to improve drought support.”

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