The first cluster under Round 1 of the Queensland Government’s Feral Pest Initiative has been completed well ahead of time and the cluster members are thrilled.


“Last year when the Queensland Government announced the funding of another $5 million it was expected that by July 2017 we would see some finished clusters. Due to the leadership and enthusiasm of the Coordinator, Lauren Schmidt, the Cobun cluster, east of Cunnamulla is already finished,” said Mark O’Brien, Queensland Government Wild Dog Fence Commissioner and Chair of South West NRM.


“This is a perfect example of how Collaborative Area Management Systems are supposed to work and we at South West NRM couldn’t be happier for the graziers” Mark said.


The group of neighbouring graziers near Cunnamulla are celebrating this week the completion of close to 150 kilometres of pest fencing in attempts to reduce an annual impact of $1 million to production.


The group of six graziers banded together in the hope of bringing wild dog numbers under control. The eight properties, stocking merino and dorper sheep, a merino stud as well as cattle, were experiencing particularly high impacts from wild dogs and on average only stocking 50% of the potential carrying capacity of their productive country near Cunnamulla.


Richard and Lauren Schmidt are only relatively new to their property “Harriman Park” just outside of Cunnamulla, but are part of a long-term wool producing family around south west Queensland. Richard Schmidt was surprised at the extent of impact despite the relatively small wild dog numbers in the area. 176 sheep within the cluster area have been killed by wild dogs since 2014.


“Some properties in the district have seen lambing drop from 100% down to 55% over the past few years and wool yields have also decreased”, Richard Schmidt reported.


“We got together as a group to try and be proactive while dog numbers are relatively low and get on top of the impacts before it is no longer viable to run sheep. Since 2014, we have collectively trapped and shot 26 dogs within the cluster area and we all bait regularly.


“Other pests have also been targeted in efforts to improve production and health of our land. Nearly 1000 pigs have been removed as well as significant fox and feral cat numbers. The fence will make our job a lot easier so reinfestation doesn’t occur, which has been our experience in other areas with just baiting and shooting.


“When the assistance for pest fencing was advertised our local group of neighbours were quick to jump at the opportunity to try and protect our good sheep country. The funding made it affordable to get a contractor in to construct the fence and we are pretty pleased to have it finished ahead of time,” Mr Schmidt said.


A total of 93 kilometres of high integrity exclusion fencing made from Clipex materials was constructed four months ahead of time. Consistent with South West NRM’s original goal of creating a ‘honeycomb’ effect of protective fences, the cluster only required 64% of the total perimeter of fencing to fully enclose itself, taking advantage of an adjoining existing cluster.


Project Manager and economist Jon Grant has estimated the impacts from pests to be close to $1 million annually over the eight properties, covering 81,540 hectares. This is equivalent to $12.15/hectare or $49.18/current DSE being stocked. These impacts, collectively from wild dogs, feral pigs and excessive kangaroo populations, severely erode the profitability of agricultural businesses in the region.


During a fence inspection last week Mark O’Brien was told that current stocking rates are only 50% of what the carrying capacity typically is for this type of country.


“The project expects that carrying capacity can return to 100%, or where stocking rates remain lower the properties will be significantly stronger in drought conditions. The investment in fencing has potential to reduce costs for the federal government through delaying drought assistance.”


Mr O’Brien said landholder group applications for the third phase of funding for a share of $2 million is currently being assessed for the shires of Murweh, Paroo, and Quilpie, as well as Bulloo.


The Collaborative Area Management project was designed and incubated at South West NRM and has now become the high water mark for pest management. It is funded through the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative. This initiative has received funding through the Queensland Government to support the growth of a productive and prosperous food and fibre sector in Queensland.  Funding has also been provided through the Australian Government's Plan for stronger farmers and a stronger farmers and a stronger economy.


Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill Byrne said “tackling the scourge of wild dogs has been a priority for the Palaszczuk Government. This government has been able to contribute to a renaissance in the sheep industry in Queensland by delivering funding to assist in the construction of cluster fencing.


“It is great to hear that part of our funding has already seen the completion of fencing projects ahead of time and is a credit to the community,” the Minister said.




Prepared by                       Liz Todd, media consultant, 0457 831 512,

More information              Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

                                               Jon Grant, Project Manager, 0474 761 633




KOALAS have a new secret weapon in the fight for survival: farmers.


The iconic Aussie animal has had a hard time over the last two decades, with drought-related habitat dieback, disease and wild dogs causing a massive population decline to about one-fifth their previous numbers in just fifteen years.


But the days of stress for the cuddly creature are over.


South West NRM, the local natural resource management group, is up for the challenge to reverse the trend.  For years, SWNRM has been funding and organising farmers building huge new fences to protect their herd from wild dog predation.


The fences protect koalas too, argued South West NRM chair and Wild Dog Commissioner, Mark O’Brien.


“Koalas are now in for a fighting chance as landholders embark on a fencing feat no match for wild dogs. With over 3.5 million hectares already set to be fenced in, we hope to dramatically increase this area with further government support,” he said.


“Landholders are working collaboratively to manage wild dog populations within the fenced areas. Over population of kangaroos will also be better managed. By removing the main stressors in the environment and allowing regeneration of natural groundcover and water access, koalas and other critters will start to thrive.


“Koalas will remain protected in the long term as fenced areas are set to become safe havens for our wildlife. Landholders want to protect the native wildlife and habitats, but it’s an uphill battle when nature is working against them. The fencing will help achieve a more natural balance as management practices such as grazing pressure become much more controlled.”


The Collaborative Area Management project is funded through the Queensland Government Regional NRM Investment Program and the Feral Pest Initiative. Funding has also been provided through the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government’s plan for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.




Prepared by                Liz Todd, media consultant, 0457 831 512,

More information         Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

   Jon Grant, Project Manager, 0474 761 633



Wild Dog Fences Need To Be "Up To Scratch" To Protect Government Investment


South West NRM is one of the partners rolling out the Queensland Government’s $26 million investment in wild dog fences. Chairman Mark O’Brien highlights the need to protect this investment with fencing standards that prevent wild dogs scratching through.

“We are thrilled with the recent visit by the Queensland Premier to western areas to inspect the fencing infrastructure and see first hand the value of the Government’s investment. The Premier has clearly understood its worth not only to the production capability of the area, but also the transformation for whole communities.” Mr O’Brien said.

“Since 2013, South West NRM’s Collaborate Area Management project has supported 22 collaborative groups, involving over 180 landholders to construct 4,000 kilometres of high integrity exclusion fencing.  The Government’s investment will benefit over 3,500,000 hectares of agricultural land in the South West with improved practices and protection from wild dogs.

“The success of the project hinges on the integrity of the fences and the maintenance program. Our monitoring and experience shows the importance of the 30cm apron on the ground to ensure dogs can’t scratch through. We are stringent on other design elements such as 1.5 metre height, rigid knot hinge joint wire and barb wire on the top and bottom.

“We also require landholder groups to maintain the fence for 20 years. Strong contractual obligations give the Government and public confidence that funds are invested for long term results. Our Project Officers are undertaking intensive on-ground monitoring of pest presence, land condition and economic data. Results are already showing a 63% increase in lambing from reduced predation for one producer. We look forward to reporting more of those results across the region,” Mr O’Brien said.

“South West NRM has received overwhelming interest from landholders in the region looking to participate in the program. The Premier’s visit is reassuring for further funding to assist more landholders improve their production capacity and return benefits to our communities.  

“We urge the Government to ensure measures are in place that demonstrate the integrity of fencing and long term maintenance to deliver the full benefits of their investments. This is important to us, as poor fencing has far reaching consequences,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Collaborative Area Management project is funded through the Queensland Government Regional NRM Investment Program and the Feral Pest Initiative. Funding has also been provided through the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government’s plan for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.




Prepared by                       Liz Todd, media consultant, 0457 831 512,

More information              Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

      Jon Grant, Project Manager, 0474 761 633





Innovative pest fencing is building community resilience in South West Queensland as groups of landholders’ band together to tackle their pest problems.

The Collaborative Area Management project is an initiative of South West NRM that involves the construction of pest exclusion fencing around a group of properties. The project allows grazing businesses to restrict pest animal movement, and regain the ability to produce sheep in a productive and profitable manner.

South West NRM Pty Ltd Chairman, Mr Mark O’Brien said “Through the management of total grazing pressure and predation, businesses will be better structured to operate sustainably, with a stronger opportunity to manage drought conditions.”

“After just two years, one landholder reported a significant recovery of lambing rates from 7% to 70% from decreased predation, which equates to over $500,000 of increased income. A sustained increase in production over time will be good news for the region as opportunities for services and employment improve,” Mr O’Brien said.

“To understand the extent of the project’s influence on pest and land management practices, the University of New England is conducting research in collaboration with Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and South West NRM.

“The benefits of the fencing are not just about fiscal returns. We hope to gain insight into landholders’ perceptions about the fencing, from those inside and outside the cluster fences. We expect the research to demonstrate improved attitudes and wellbeing, supporting an increased capacity to recover from years of devastation,” Mr O’Brien said.

The results from the research project will be available in the next few months and will inform the targeted rollout of further fencing projects by South West NRM in the region.

The Collaborative Area Management project is funded through the Queensland Government Regional NRM Investment Program and the Feral Pest Initiative. Funding has also been provided through the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Austalian Government's plan for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.






Prepared by                  Liz Todd, Media Consultant, 0457 831 512,

More information          Phil McCullough, Chief Executive Officer, 0407 126 689

                                   Jon Grant, Project Manager, 0474 761 633


CAM 2 - Media Release 3 January 2017

CAM 2 - Media Release 3 January 2017
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CAM Phase 2

Cluster fence expected to be completed by Christmas


In May 2015, Minister Joyce announced a proposed allocation of $10 million to add to the Queensland Government’s ongoing support for cluster fencing. The money was predominately for the sheep regions of south and central western Queensland and was warmly welcomed.
In June this year, the Minister agreed with a proposed model of distribution for the funds which was increased by $6 million from the Queensland State Government.
“South West NRM is proud of how quickly we have delivered the rollout of this project and put the money into fences” said South West NRM Chair, Mark O’Brien. He said this after inspecting the fencing works and seeing the efforts of the Wellwater Cluster, which has been funded by this money.
Cluster members, Scott Sargood and Allan Cann (pictured) joined Mark for the inspection and reported a significant portion of the fence is now up and the full job is expected to be completed by Christmas – this has been in spite of some very welcome rain in the area.
“A very speedy and positive outcome thanks to great collaboration between the cluster and Jon Grant, the South West NRM CAM Phase 2 manager”, said Mr. O’Brien.

Cluster picture.jpg

The release of the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan represents a significant step towards the historic adoption of the first Basin Plan in 2011.

Abstract or description: 

Introduction — the purpose of the Guide

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (the Authority) is preparing the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan to present proposals to the community for discussion. These proposals are about the key decisions the Authority is required to make under the Water Act 2007 (Cwlth), in particular the new limits on water that can be taken from the Basin, known as long-term average sustainable diversion limits (SDLs), which will apply to both surface water and  groundwater. The proposed Basin Plan (a legislative instrument) will be released later this year or early next year. This document sets out proposals on the main issues in the plan.
The Authority is endorsing the issuing of the overview, noting that it represents a set of proposals based on the information provided to the Authority by its staff, state and federal governments, stakeholders, consultants and others. A technical background to the Guide (volume 2) provides greater scientific detail, with 19 regional guides dealing with the specifics of each region and the proposals as they affect each region. Volume 2 and the regional  guides are being approved for release by the chief executive. The Authority is interested in the views of the community and stakeholders on the proposals in the Guide and on the quality of data and evidence used and the analysis that has been undertaken. The Authority will consider any feedback in finalising the Basin Plan.

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