Labor vote sends Bill Sykes wild

Bill Sykes
Bill Sykes

A WAR of words has erupted between Benalla MP Bill Sykes and Labor agriculture spokeswoman Jacinta Allan over aerial baiting of wild dogs.

It comes after a Labor Party branch meeting in Melbourne recently voted unanimously to condemn aerial baiting.

Ms Allan has distanced herself from that decision and claims her party has always been in favour of that method to control escalating dog numbers.

Dr Sykes said his government had achieved more in dog control in the past three years than its Labor counterparts in the previous decade.

“Ms Allan must take country voters for fools or think they have short memories,” Dr Sykes said.

“Labor and its inner-city members obviously have no idea about the real and devastating impacts wild dogs have on livestock producers, both financially and emotionally.”

Ms Allan has hit back by saying Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh had to be “dragged kicking and screaming to get this program started” .

“Since 2010, Peter Walsh has sacked 542 DEPI workers, impeding efforts to control wild dog and fox populations, something Bill Sykes has remained silent about,” Ms Allan said.

Dr Sykes said the previous Department of Primary Industries and Department of Sustainability and Environment were amalgamated for greater efficiencies, which have been achieved.

He said the new department was functioning much better with “one organisation, one culture”.

“The ALP Coburg West branch recently voted unanimously to condemn aerial baiting, an essential tool for controlling wild dog populations,” Dr Sykes said.

“While wild dogs are maiming and killing livestock and native wildlife, Labor Party members are aiming to stop attempts to control wild dogs.”

Dr Sykes said Ms Allan’s latest blunder comes just weeks after she wrongly claimed the Victorian budget contained no funding for the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

That was just days after she wrongly claimed the Echuca Regional Hospital would have its funding cut only to be slapped down by the hospital, he said.

Former Labor environment minister John Thwaites in 2005 announced the possible introduction of aerial baiting trials, but in 2007 he refused to introduce it.

Some in the farming community branded him “a closet green”.