$1 million boost for Esperance fence extension

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Ravensthorpe farmer Jenny Chambers, Salmon Gums farmer Murray Ayers, Cascade farmer Scott Pickering and West River farmer Rick Carpenter.
Camera IconRavensthorpe farmer Jenny Chambers, Salmon Gums farmer Murray Ayers, Cascade farmer Scott Pickering and West River farmer Rick Carpenter. Credit: Cally Dupe

The Federal Government has poured another $1 million into the Esperance extension of the State Barrier Fence — inching the ambitious project closer to the flagged $11.5 million total.

The project involves extending the 1170km State Barrier Fence a further 660km from its current end point near Ravensthorpe, north to Salmon Gums and ending east of Esperance.

It is still about $660,000 million short of the original, $11.5m funding target, despite work starting last May and 63km of the fence already being built.

Countryman understands the difference was set to be spent on native title negotiations, now likely to cost less than expected, and the State Government will make up the difference.

Last week’s Federal Government committent brings its funding total to nearly $2 million after committing $956,000 in March last year.

The WA Government has also poured $6.9 million into the project, with the remainder provided by the Shires of Esperance ($1.5 million) and Ravensthorpe ($280,000).

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the $1 million committed last week would fund a further 183km of the project, which is expected to be complete by June 2023.

“This is a critical link as part of the total 660km project,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The funding will assist to increase productivity in sheep and other grazing operations, by reducing the impacts of wild dogs and the need for wild dog management activities on their properties.

“The project will stimulate economic activity in WA pastoral communities, creating additional jobs and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and remote communities.

“The purchase of fencing materials and other activities to support construction will also help to kick-start local economies as they emerge out of COVID-19.”

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed the Federal funding boost.

“We have long made the case that the Federal Government needed to come to the party and contribute a reasonable sum of funding for this project,” she said.

“Tenders for further works will be advertised shortly. Negotiations with traditional owners to allow work to progress on land covered by native title are well advanced and should be finalised soon.”

The first post of the State Barrier Fence extension was driven into the turf near Ravensthorpe last May, ending a near 20-year farmer-led campaign.

Once complete, the State Barrier Fence will stretch a further 660km from its current end point 25km east of Ravensthorpe, to north of Salmon Gums before terminating east of Esperance, near Cape Arid National Park.

Esperance Tjaltjraak Aboriginal Rangers were involved in the first 63km of fence, extending it to Cascade.

Mr Littleproud said the Federal Government had invested $54 million in wild dog management nationally since 2014-15.

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