THE BDO EconSearch report on the state of the South Australian Dog Fence confirms what the livestock industry has been saying loudly and clearly for a long time - that sections of the fence are in such a state of disrepair, it is costing graziers money and limiting the economic contribution of the sheep industry.
As the world's longest continuous fence, with sections dating back more than 100 years, the 5400km-long Dog Fence - 2150km in SA - is something to be proud of and protect. But keeping it in an effective state costs money.
When we want something in life, we all have a tendency to crunch the numbers until they turn out in our favour. That state-of the-art header we've been eyeing off? It's not unnecessary expenditure, it's an investment in efficiency. The fancy new drone? It's not a toy, it's a high-tech crop monitoring tool.
But with a cost-benefit calculation as comprehensive and conclusive as BDO EconSearch's Economic analysis of the South Australian Dog Fence, no such justification or convincing should be needed.
Spending $25 million today to secure a net benefit of up to $120.3m across 20 years sounds like a good bet to me.
Pastoralists along the Dog Fence have already seen their profits eroded by the extremely dry conditions, and have been calling for action to curb wild dog populations for years. They need support to stop the deterioration of the fence.
According to the report, fixing the fence will cut wild dog management costs by as much as $97m and boost sheep sales by up to $69m. On the other hand, if nothing is done, the report estimates wild dog management costs borne by pastoralists will quadruple by 2038.
The issue must also be considered from a welfare perspective, as an effective fence helps limit the number of sheep dying cruel deaths at the hands of wild dogs.
It appears there is an appetite from state and federal governments, as well as industry, to fund the much-needed repairs. With an election looming and the federal budget due in the next month, the time is right to turn talk into action and cough up the money to get this iconic and essential piece of infrastructure back into good shape.
But there must be recognition that the story doesn't end there. Regular, thorough maintenance will be the only way to ensure the fence does not fall into a similar state of disrepair again.