Call for stock route fees to rise to ensure its future
WITH drought conditions continuing, AgForce predicts stock route fees must rise to ensure they are accessible for future generations.
Many producers are now looking to Queensland's unique stock routes to find grass and water for hungry cattle, but it is clear more money is required to maintain this vital network for the future.
AgForce and the Local Government Association of Queensland have united in a call to increase the travel and agistment permit fees to provide adequate funding for maintenance.
Grazier Peter Hall said the unsustainable low access fees met less than five per cent of the network maintenance costs.
The gap was being met by the local councils and therefore, all ratepayers.
"AgForce, along with the LGAQ, are pushing strongly for a system in which the stock route system pays for itself via user access costs,” he said.
"The current fees that were set decades ago, are so low that they encourage poor behaviour and misuse of the stock routes merely for grazing rather than for the intended purpose of transit.”
These fees are not enough for local governments to recoup the actual costs associated with managing the network, let alone any improvements to the route.
AgForce, LGAQ and drovers are currently participating in a review of the fees and strategy being undertaken by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
"We commend the collaborative and consultative approach DNRME have taken to review the Stock Route Management Regulation 2003 and the Stock Route Network Strategy,” Mr Hall said.
Workshops were held with key stakeholders in Kingaroy, Longreach, Roma and Emerald before a final workshop in Brisbane.
LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said the review of the regulation and strategy was of significant interest to Queensland councils.
"Local governments are responsible for day to day management and overall compliance on the stock route network,” he said.
The current fee structure recoups just 4 per cent of the costs of managing the stock route network.
"We've missed a few opportunities to reform the network over the last decade and we're loathe to miss another -especially at a time like now when the network is in strong demand from users,” Mr Hallam said.
"We're looking forward to working with the department and minister to work to raise these fees in an effort to improve the situation as soon as possible.”
Mr Hallam said it was important to remember raising the fees was about securing a future network.
"Queensland's stock route network is an amazing asset which we want to continue to use and enjoy in the future,” he said.
"This is about ensuring that costs paid are fair and reasonable so that the network is around for generations to come.”