Road rules relaxed to receive northern rush

James Nason, 08/08/2011

The expected diversion of northern cattle into Queensland following the Indonesian export ban has triggered a temporary relaxation on heavy transport restrictions into Roma. 

State Government regulations currently prevent the movement of longer Type 2 road trains on  the Warrego Highway between Mitchell and Roma, because of the narrow dimensions and poor condition of the road.

The restrictions have long caused headaches to livestock transporters who can efficiently truck cattle via conventional triple-trailer road trains east to Mitchell, but must then unhitch one trailer for the remaining 87km journey to Roma. They then have to ferry trailers back and forth to Roma, adding substantial time delays and costs. 

In recent months AgForce has lobbied the State Government to lift the transport restrictions under specific conditions to facilitate the efficient movement of northern cattle displaced by the live export ban.

In a press release issued on Friday Queensland main roads minister Craig Wallace advised that the Government would now issue special permits under strict conditions to enable Type 2 road trains to travel between Mitchell and Roma.

Type 1 road trains comprise configurations that total up to 36.5m in length, which includes B-triples within that maximum length.

Type 2 road trains refer to any trailer configuration longer than 36.5 metres, but shorter than 53.5 metres total length.

The longer Type 2 road trains, which include conventional three trailer road trains, can cart anywhere from 40 to 80 more cattle than Type 1 road trains.

Under the temporary arrangements Type 2 transport operators will be able to apply for permits to travel the Mitchell-Roma stretch under escort and in low-speed convoys between 7pm and midnight, when traffic is at a minimum. Mr Wallace said the requirements were designed to protect the safety of other road users.

The special permits will be in place for a three month period, but AgForce has indicated it will push for extensions if required.

Federal and state funded upgrade work to give Type 2 road trains long-term access to the Mitchell-Roma leg of the Warrego Highway is currently underway.

A Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson told Beef Central on Friday that a $62m upgrade was due for completion in 2014, that will allow Type 2 road trains to travel to within 6km of Roma.

Work to assess the scope of a new road that would allow road trains to travel the remaining 6km via a bypass to the Roma saleyards is also underway. The formal design study for that project is due for completion in June 2012. 

Northern cattle movements

The type of northern cattle likely to move into Queensland are expected to comprise mainly breeders and heavier, older cattle moved off properties to make way for the larger numbers of lighter live export cattle and weaners still on hand as a result of the June/July export ban.

Elders Roma branch manager James Croft believed it was unlikely big volumes of lighter cattle would be trucked south because of the reduced prices available for lighter Brahman steers as a result of the ban, and the high costs of transport.

Many northern producers would still be hoping to get some cattle to Indonesia this year, with the trade officially set to recommence this Wednesday when Elders sends the first boat under the new export conditions to Indonesia.

Mr Croft said that where seasonal conditions forced producers to send lighter cattle south, they may see the Longreach and Blackall sales as an attractive first option to save on freight costs.

“I think the big movements will be when those northern cattle that are at 350kg plus now come down as heavier cattle in 12 months time, I think that is where they are going to have an impact on our market down here,” he said.

AgForce cattle policy manager Andrew Simpson told Beef Central on Friday there was already some evidence of large numbers of northern cattle moving into Queensland and more would follow.

“I suspect there will be a number of producers that have to offload breeding stock, and I think the second wave of cattle we’re yet to see are those that have reached the 350kg cap,” Mr Simpson said.

AgForce and the Livestock Transporters Association of Queensland are now working with affected producers to issue the permits.

For owners/operators wanting a permit the following details of each road train are to be forwarded to TMR by 9am each Thursday for the Sunday following:

  • Registration details of the trailers and prime mover in the vehicle combination.
  • Owner of the vehicle combination.
  • Owner of the Livestock to be carried (the load).
  • Origin of the load (where the cattle are coming from).
  • Date of the Sunday the permit is requested for.
  • Drivers name.
  • Drivers licence number.
  • Email address for the issue/delivery of the permit and a copy of TMP.

Permits can be obtained from TMR South West Roma office. TMR Roma office is to be advised of changes to vehicles involved in the permit in writing through Mr Andrew Tsang/Sussan Evans via the following contact details: email: or mail: PO Box 126 Roma, Qld, 4455.




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