IN 2005 a federal parliamentary inquiry into wild dogs found Australia’s state and territory government land managers were neglecting their responsibilities to control pest animals on their lands.
That finding may be significant if legal action being mooted by farmers against the Victorian government proceeds.
The possibility of legal action has been discussed by farmers in the North East and Gippsland with a precedent Supreme Court decision in 2001 in favour of a former Thougla farmer.
The case of Ron Stockwell suing the Victorian government was mentioned in the parliamentary inquiry’s findings.
“The obligation of state government agencies not to allow pest animals on their land to cause nuisance to adjoining landholders has been given judicial recognition in Victoria,” the inquiry found.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley sat on the inquiry committee.
It took evidence around Australia and North East Victorian people gave submissions when the inquiry convened at the Lake Hume Resort.
One was from Tintaldra farmers Neil and Marilyn Clydsdale, who stated: “If private citizens managed their land as poorly as Crown owned land, they would be fined or put in jail”.
“The proclamation of national parks, which most citizens applaud, has not been resourced at the level required.
“So with a lack of funding to employ adequate staff to control issues such as weeds, wild dogs, foxes and other emerging pest animals, coupled with under funding to provide baits, traps and chemicals, the situation continues to get out of control year after year.”
Ms Clydsdale is a former chairwoman of the North East Wild Dog Advisory Committee and remains a member of it.
The inquiry said the submissions reflected landholders’ frustration.
“There was overwhelming evidence presented to the committee that pest animals are not being controlled properly on government land, including state forests and national parks,” it said.
“This perceived lack of management frustrates many landholders, whose efforts to control pest animals on their own land are being thwarted due to the neglect of government land managers.
“National parks were referred to by one submitter as a ‘neighbour from hell’.”