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In a major announcement that will have long lasting ramifications, Longreach Regional Council has received approval for a one-off loan of $17.9 million from Queensland Treasury Corporation to proceed with its innovative Longreach Wild Dog Exclusion Fence Scheme (LWDEFS).

The scheme will enable the construction of 2,500 kilometres of exclusion fencing, protecting 900,000ha of land from wild dog predation. The game-changing initiative is cost-neutral to Council; with the 63 applicants paying for their fencing through a special rate levied over a period of 20 years.

An increase of 200,000 sheep is projected under the scheme over the next five years, an increase of around 40 percent on current levels. The benefit to the economy is significant, with a further 130 jobs and population increase of 500 estimated.

Longreach Regional Council Mayor Ed Warren said the scheme would bring significant gains to the entire community. 

“Graziers can now restock with confidence and some will even get back into sheep for the first time in years. But it’s not just the landholders that benefit.” 

“It’s no exaggeration to say this scheme will impact the entire economic prosperity of our region.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was pleased with the benefits the scheme will bring.

“We want to see rural and regional economies and communities thriving, and I commend Longreach Regional Council on their innovative thinking with this initiative.” 

Precedent for the approach by local government exists with the rural electrification scheme, which enabled the roll out of power in regional areas. Other councils are now said to be interested in implementing their own fence schemes on a similar basis.

Mayor Warren said wild dogs were costing the region approximately $40 million per year.

“In addition to that there’s the impact to employment, mental health issues, population decline, the loss of key skills within communities and animal welfare issues.”

“I can’t stress how important the success of this scheme is going to be to everyone in our community. Stemming population decline will secure capacity for community services including health, education, sports and recreation.”

“I feel like this is the start of something special for our region and I’m so proud of our team here at Council.”

Work now commences on the rollout of the scheme with suppliers and contractors gathering for information sessions later this month.