Wild Dog Bureaucracy

Wild Dog Fence at Hungerford on the NSW/Qld state border

 

THe following article is adapted from the orignal published at www.mumdimundi.com where the initial paragraphs were identified as written by Ivanhoe Harry.

I love the "wild dog" fence which extends along some of the New South Wales/Queensland and New South Wales/South Australia borders. Apparently it was originally constructed to keep the rabbits out but it didn't work. Legendary Australian poet and writer, Henry Lawson, visited Hungerford which is located on the New South Wales/Queensland border in 1893. He described "an interprovincial rabbit-proof fence — with rabbits on both sides of it ..." (see reference below).

In the early 20th century, some bureaucrat consultants were said to have been brought out from Sydney. Rather than admit defeat and acknowledge that money had been wasted on a useless project, they noted that there were no dingos in the area and suggested the fence be renamed the wild dog fence. The lack of dingos in the area verified the success of the project (no need to mention the general lack of dingos in the area prior to construction of the fence). The fence needed to be administered, as do all bureaucratic structures, and so in 1921 the government established the New South Wales Wild Dog Destruction Board to employ staff to patrol and repair the fence. There being no dogs, they could not actually destroy dogs despite the organisation's name

It's a lesson I could have done with earlier in life. Never let anything be declared a failure; just assign it a new purpose (even if that purpose was unnecessary) so that the project is a success. And to emphasise the success, establish a bureaucracy to administer the "success".

 

Fortville Gate Looking West

 

"The South Australian section of the border fence is erected on or near the western border of New South Wales and extends from the North West border of New South Wales (Cameron Corner) for approximately 219kms south along the NSW/SA border. .... The Queensland section of the border fence is erected approximately 15 metres north of the border of the New South Wales and extends from the western border of NSW (Cameron Corner) for 363kms east to a point 15kms east of Hungerford." from the Wild Dog Destruction Board's Annual Report 2008

Although it purported to be a NSW statutory authority, the former Wild Dog Destruction Board was not included in the "complete list" of State Government Agencies formerly published on the New South Wales Government website. The Border Fence Maintenance Board continues not to be included in the current NSW Government Directory which claims to provide "the contact details for all government departments, agencies, offices and entities within New South Wales". Another lesson in successful bureaucracy - never let the punters know where to find you!

In a further attempt to disguise failure, the New South Wales act of parliament which established the bureaucracy was initially known as the Wild Dog Destruction Act 1921 but in approximately 2015 was retrospectively renamed the Border Fence Maintenance Act 1921 removing any suggestion that fence is related to the purported danger of being invaded by wild dogs from interstate. Similarly the board was renamed the Border Fence Maintenance Board. In a further twist, the legislated provison which amended the name of the Act, namely Schedule 8.44[1] of the Biosecurity Act 2015, commenced (i.e. came into effect) in July 2017 but appears itself to have since been repealed in an obscure trail that has not been unravelled by this author.


Also see ......

  1. Henry Lawson, While the Billy Boils, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1896, pages 40-44 reproduced by The Institute of Australian Culture.
  2. Daniel Lewis, Doing a Stretch Where the Wild Dogs Roam, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 2003.
  3. ‘Not having it is not an option’: Debate over Wild Dog Fence rates,The Land, 19 July 2018.
  4. Border Fence Maintenance Act 1921
  5. New South Wales, State Records Archives Investigator, Wild Dog Destruction Board
  6. New South Wales, Wild Dog Destruction Board, Annual Report 2016. This is the last report published in the Board's former name.
  7. New South Wales, Border Fence Maintenance Board, Annual Report 2017. This is the most recent report that has been located.

 

Sign on gate at Cameron Corner on the NSW/SA/Qld state border

 

 

Sources

  • The text was originally published at mundimundi.com and is available under CC0 - No Rights Reserved.
  • Sign at Hungerford on the NSW/Qld state border. This photograph is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced. If you wish, you may attribute it to mundimundi.com Note the spelling error when referring to State "Boarders"
  • From Fortville Gate, on the NSW/Qld border, looking west. This photograph is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced. If you wish, you may attribute it to mundimundi.com
  • Gate from New South Wales into South Australia at Cameron Corner, looking west. The photograph is licensed under CC0 - No Rights Reserved. This picture may be freely reproduced. If you wish, you may attribute mundimundi.com as the source.

 

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