Dog park debate divides Schubert candidates

Labor candidate David Haebich with his dog Eddie the Schnauzer.
Labor candidate David Haebich with his dog Eddie the Schnauzer.

Schubert MP Stephan Knoll’s announcement last week that the Liberal Party would cough up $100,000 for Barossa dog parks if elected was welcomed by the region’s dog lovers – but has divided election candidates.

Labor candidate David Haebich – a self professed dog lvoer – has refused to bite, saying he believes the issue is not a state government issue and should be addressed by The Barossa Council.

“What we have to realise is for quite a number of years, people have been paying dog registration; I would be asking council what they are doing with that money,” he said.

“There is nothing in the Barossa Valley to tell me council has gone out of its way to establish any dog parks.”

If elected as the local member, Mr Haebich said he would be going direct to council to find out what the issues preventing the establishment of a dog park were.

He said Mr Knoll needed to be “driving council to make it happen”.

“If (council) can justify to me what they’ve done with the (dog registration) money, then I’m happy to advocate for state funding,” he said.

“There are numerous dog parks in other areas which have been established with no (state) government assistance.”

When the Herald made enquiries into the spending of dog registration fees last November, council advised that the expenses required to comply with the Dog and Cat Management Act outweighed the revenue from registrations.

Schubert MP Stephan Knoll and Kelly Adams, Nuriootpa, have been advocating for a designated off-leash area for dogs in the Barossa.

Schubert MP Stephan Knoll and Kelly Adams, Nuriootpa, have been advocating for a designated off-leash area for dogs in the Barossa.

According to the council’s 2017-18 budget summary, total expenses were estimated at $446,852, with the total revenue from dog registration fees valued at $217,851.

Mr Knoll said his petition and push for funding for a Barossa dog park started as a result of the state government’s Fund My Neighbourhood grants program.

“(They) were prepared to put state government money on the table for projects such as this,” he said.

“People don’t care how an issue gets solved, they just want it solved.

“In this case, we’ve put money on the table and that will solve the issue – if we’re elected.

“Council has indicated to me that the cost of complying with the Dog and Cat Management Act far outweighs their revenue from registrations.”

Meanwhile, Mr Knoll pointed out that state government had provided $200,000 for the establishment of a dog park in Aldinga at the request of Kaurna MP Chris Picton, and supported by Mawson MP Leon Bignell.

“So the state government are willing to fund dog parks in Seaford and Aldinga, but aren’t willing to invest in the Barossa.

“This is why we need a Liberal government in SA.”

SA Best candidate Paul Brown said he would be happy to endorse state government funding for a dog park if his party helped to form government.

SA Best candidate Paul Brown.

SA Best candidate Paul Brown.

“A dog park is one of the issues which has been raised with me,” he said.

“That sort of thing, we’re happy to commit to.”

Rikki Lambert, who is contesting Schubert for the Australian Conservative Party, said if there was overwhelming community support for a state government funded dog park, his party “wouldn’t stand in the way”.

“But this sounds like ‘Schmacko’-barreling to me,” he said.

“in the end there are sporting and community groups that would also like that funding.”

He said he was not inclined to commit to a “me too” promise for a dog park, as this was a council responsibility.

“If the community overwhelmingly wants dog parks funded with state taxpayer money, so be it,” Mr Lambert said.

"This sounds like ‘Schmacko’-barreling to me," Conservatives candidate Rikki Lambert said.

"This sounds like ‘Schmacko’-barreling to me," Conservatives candidate Rikki Lambert said.

“However, the Conservatives' policy to abolish payroll tax, stamp duty, land tax and the emergency services levy will apply to everyone, dog owners or not, whether they want dog parks or not.

“I'm committed to tax cuts for Schubert, not more government spending on council responsibilities.”