On 3 November 2016 the Stock Route Network Management Bill 2016
("Bill") was introduced to the Queensland Parliament
proposing, its supporters argue, a single contemporary Act to
better support the long term management of Queensland's
extensive stock route network comprising an area of 2.6 million
hectares. The Bill is currently being considered through the
parliamentary committee process and is expected to be debated in
the House in early 2017.
Currently, the stock route network is administered under three
Stock Route Management Act 2012;
Land Act 1994; and
Transport Infrastructure Act 1994.
The Bill will bring the existing legislation into one package
and its proponents argue that this will reduce duplication and
provide clarity, consistency and simplicity for Queenslanders who
use and manage the stock route network.
On an objective assessment, the main benefits of the proposed
legislation would appear to be:
establishing a single point of entry (ie local governments) for
stock owners seeking approvals to move and graze stock on roads and
reducing regulatory burdens on councils and providing them with
greater ability to administer and maintain the stock route
minimising the impact of livestock on areas of the stock route
network that support biodiversity and are culturally significant to
consolidating and removing duplicated or overly prescriptive
legislative provisions; and
providing for all funds generated by the use of stock routes
and reserves to end up back at local government level for
investment in the network.
Producer organisations, including AgForce, argue that they have
identified a number of deficiencies with the Bill including:
because Queensland has 44 local government bodies, the
likelihood of inconsistencies across Councils in terms of
allocating sufficient resources and having the will to address
issues such as weeds and overgrazing;
the lack of state government oversight to ensure that local
governments manage the stock route network effectively;
the absence of an intermediary (such as a stock route
supervisor) between the local government and the Minister if a
stockowner takes issue with or is aggrieved by a decision of the
local government in respect of a stock route matter;
the handing over of responsibility for managing stock routes to
councils is happening at a time when some councils have little or
no interest in the extra burden of managing an effective stock
route network; and
councils being unsure if the fees they will receive from
stockowners are going to be sufficient to cover the costs of
managing the stock route network properly.
The general consensus seems to be that there is broad support
for handing the management of stock routes back to local
government, but until some accurate modelling about the viability
of councils taking on this additional obligation can be done, the
benefits that the proposed legislation will deliver to the various
stakeholders will be the subject of on-going debate.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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