Stock Routes

Stock Routes

Issue:
In 2003, AgForce joined with local government bodies concerned about the deteriorating condition of the state stock route network to push State government to reform the legislation, to bring in greater compliance, a system to facilitate both short and long term grazing approvals on the system where appropriate and generate fees to reinvest in the upkeep of the network.

Over a decade later, two Bills have been introduced and failed due to a lack of political stability and the inability of parties involved to agree on implementation issues surrounding new legislation. This means that little has changed and the condition of the network is failing fast. A third version of the Bill – the Stock Route Network Management Bill 2017 – has been fraught with similar issues, and the relevant Parliamentary Committee recommended it not be passed in its current form. Regardless, if stakeholders cannot agree on a proposed reform package it is dubious whether there will be a stock route network available for use in years to come.

Solutions that AgForce endorses:
At a landmark meeting in Longreach in August 2017, key stakeholders agreed on a set of recommendations to advance the Stock Route Network Management Bill 2017. These recommendations must be implemented as a priority:

  • Fees for Long-term grazing approvals: The State should set the fee (not just a minimum fee as per the current Bill). The rental component fee should be equivalent to the rental value for state grazing leases under the Land Act (currently 1.5 per cent of unimproved land value). Local governments will retain the flexibility to increase the total revenue they receive through increasing rates component paid for the grazing approval area.
  • Fees for Travelling stock approvals: The State should continue to set the fee but the existing fee needs to be increased. At a minimum, the fee should be increased to 5 cents per head per day per 10 kilometres (the previous 2007-08 Stock Route Assessment Panel recommendation), annually indexed and annually reviewed with a view to gradually increasing it to reach a cost recovery level.
  • Oversight: An implementation oversight group (IOG) for the Bill should be established. It would operate as a forum where implementation and network classification issues can be raised and resolution options identified and shared. Membership should include AgForce, LGAQ, local government representatives and DNRM.
  • Communication/Education Program: An education program needs to be developed informing landowners of their responsibilitiesfor using and grazing the network. Program components and roll out should be developed, coordinated and overseen through the IOG.
  • Transition costs: The State government needs to provide funding to local governments to transition to the new arrangements, particularly to get new long-term grazing approvals in place.
  • State Management Plan and Regulation: A commitment is sought from the Minister that stakeholders (through the proposed IOG) be consulted and engaged in the development of the state management plan and regulation.
  • Water facilities management: The State government needs to commit to ongoing capital funding for water facilities through a rolling 3-year funding program, rather than an annual program.
  • Water facilities management: The existing capital funding should be maintained at a minimum level of $800,000 per annum and annually indexed.

Stock Routes

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