TALLANGATTA Valley farmer Stuart Morant has a message for the Victorian government over its “Clayton’s promise” about maintaining the number of dogmen to combat the wild dog problem.
Mr Morant, a prominent Victorian Farmers Federation official, said the government promised before the last election to retain the same level of dogmen.
The promise was endorsed at a meeting held at Tallangatta late last year attended by Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh.
But the commitment has not been followed through and the situation will get worse in a few weeks when long-time dogman Ian “Bluey” Campbell, based at Tallangatta, goes on long-service leave.
Mr Morant said that would mean there were three dogmen in the North East to cover vast tracts of bush.
“They simply cannot cover the area. It’s far too big,” Mr Morant said.
“My message is quite simple because the government is on the nose with country people for many reasons.
“It’s about time they got on with it and honoured their promises.”
The Department of Primary Industries was approached for an explanation of how it was going to cover Mr Campbell’s absence.
But a spokesman did not provide a specific answer to the question.
“The department uses a combination of the redirection of wild dog controllers and the employment of contractors to cover absences due to extended illness and long service leave,” he said.
“This ensures that the necessary proactive and reactive control measures are delivered across all wild dog affected areas.”
Mr Morant said that was just “nonsense”.
He said in Mr Campbell’s absence there would be two dogmen at Corryong and one at Tallangatta.
Mr Morant said that would be “a completely wasted opportunity to get down dog numbers”.
“The dogmen are only allowed to trap where there have been killings.
“The department uses the excuse there are not many killings.
“It is an excuse not to do their job.
“The dog control program is totally askew as they are relying totally on baiting to pick up the dog numbers.”
It was recently revealed a quarter of the state’s 24 dogmen positions are not filled.
“If the money is there, the government should have the dogmen on the job,” Mr Morant said.