FARMERS are considering taking legal action against the Victorian government over its failure to control wild dogs.
The possibility has been discussed by North East and Gippsland farmers as frustration grows.
The main issues are the government’s increasing emphasis on community baiting programs and its failure to honour commitments such as filling vacant dogmen positions in the North East.
Former Victorian wild dog committee member Noel Cheshire in July last year raised the possibility of a class action against the government.
The idea has gained momentum in recent months as farmers vent their feelings with the government’s attitude.
It reached boiling point with some farmers after Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh recently issued a release citing the success of ground baiting programs in Gippsland.
Many farmers say that is far from the truth and the government is embarking of a campaign of “spin”.
The farming community is buoyed by a precedent Supreme Court judgement in 2001 that awarded more than $100,000 to Thougla farmer Ron Stockwell and costs against the government estimated at more than $600,000.
Tallangatta Valley farmer Brian Fraser said yesterday he was aware of the discussion about legal action.
Mr Fraser has spoken to farmers in both Gippsland and the North East who regard it as the last resort.
“It would have happened long before this, apart from the cost of such a move,” Mr Fraser said.
“But I am aware avenues are being explored to see how it can be done and how many farmers need to be a party to it.”
Mr Fraser said the government has “a duty of care” to look after feral pests and noxious weeds emanating from its land.
“It seems to have conveniently overlooked its responsibility while applying pressure to farmers who may have similar problems,” he said.
“This government is in trouble with parliamentary numbers on a knife edge.
“It could be on the way out at the next election because the anger in the farming community grows with each dog attack.”
Mr Cheshire has echoed a familiar saying by describing the government as “the neighbour from hell”.
Victorian Farmers Federation branch president at Tallangatta, Stuart Morant, said yesterday he understood the frustration.
“The bottom line is to get the dogs removed,” Mr Morant said.
He pondered whether legal action will achieve that aim.