Qld’s new stock route laws miss the mark: AgForce

Beef Central, 04/11/2016

New laws that will see control of Queensland’s 2.6 million hectare network for travelling livestock handed to local councils fail to ensure the stock routes will be managed properly, warns Queensland producer group AgForce.

New legislation introduced into Queensland Parliament yesterday will, if passed, see graziers pay local councils for grazing permits to use stock routes in each council area, not the State Government as they do now.

Councils will then be able to use those funds to manage stock routes and invest in pest and weed control, environmental protection work and fire risk reduction activities, the Queensland Government says.

Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said the Stock Route Network Management Bill 2016 will give local councils greater autonomy to manage the stock routes in their region.

“Councils are best placed to manage stock routes and will be able to issue approvals and make informed management decisions based on their local knowledge,” Dr Lynham said.

He said the State Government would continue to make decisions about the use and management of the stock route network; set the fees for stock to travel on the stock route network and provide training and support for local governments.

He said the Palaszczuk Government will also identify areas of natural or cultural significance on Queensland’s 2.6 million hectare stock route network to minimise the impact of stock in those areas.

Legislation fails to ensure good management

Queensland’s peak broadacre farming representative group says the new laws fail to put in place appropriate safeguards to ensure the stock routes are managed properly.

AgForce Cattle Board Director Peter Hall said the stock route network had been plagued for decades by issues such as overgrazing by producers, unmanaged weed infestations and an inadequate fee structure that meant infrastructure such as watering points were not maintained or renewed.

“Most Queensland livestock producers will have used the stock routes network at some time in their lives, either for travelling stock during a drought or as a short term supply of feed in good times,” he said.

“Stock route reform is long overdue and AgForce supports councils having responsibility for managing the stock route network and we support all funds raised being delivered back to local government for investment in the network.

“However, AgForce remains concerned about potential inconsistencies across councils, including whether they’ll allocate adequate resources and have the will to address issues like weeds and overgrazing.

“Effectively, the Queensland Government is handing over the reins of responsibility to councils at a time when we know some councils have little or no interest in managing an effective stock routes network. That’s why there is a need for the State Government to ensure continued oversight of the network.”

Mr Hall said AgForce had consistently maintained we could not support the laws until seeing a copy of the associated regulations.

“The regulations will set fundamental conditions like the fee structures and we know that for travelling stock, the Government is not proposing to increase this rate from the archaic and ludicrous rate of 1c/head/day first set decades ago,” he said.

“Such a ridiculously low rate won’t return adequate revenue nor does it engender responsible management of the network. In addition, fees for grazing authorities need to be fair and equitable, which is why we have suggested linking the fees to the rents and rates of adjacent land.

“A number of elements of the new laws are unlikely to be popular with some producers as they’ll require new permits and new fees where the stock route network is used – but we were willing to support this as the aim was to ultimately deliver a funded and better managed network.

“While AgForce appreciates the laws are not likely to be implemented for several years and the final regulations are yet to be presented to Parliament, this first iteration of the laws has many flaws and we will be working through the committee system to address our concerns.”

Source: Queensland Government, AgForce


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