Industry stakeholders including users, local government and outback locals are invited to have their say on proposed changes to the use and management of Queensland's vital stock routes, to ensure they are well maintained into the future.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart visited Charleville, Longreach and Ilfracombe last week announcing that consultation on the Stock Routes Network discussion paper had opened. Consultation on the discussion paper will run for eight weeks closing September 3.
"The Queensland stock route network has a long history of supporting landholders in moving livestock, providing pasture for emergency agistment in times of drought, and long-term grazing," Mr Stewart said.
"The 72,000 km network is used to feed and move up to 330,000 stock each year across 48 local government areas.
"The proposed changes outlined in the discussion paper aim to create a better funded stock route network that provides better outcomes for the drovers and livestock producers who rely on the network each year.
"Queensland's local councils are the primary caretakers of the network, ensuring routes in their areas are monitored and maintained, and includes regularly checking water facilities, undertaking weed and pest control and upgrading facilities where needed.
"To help maintain and upgrade the network, councils collect fees from network users, but currently this only represents about four per cent of the total funds they need to cover the costs."
Cooladdi-based drover, Billy Prow, Monamby, spends half the year on the stock route and said he doesn't mind if the rates are increased in the review process, so long as the money goes back into maintaining the stock route.
"They certainly need to address the rates for agistment stock as these need to be increased and should be more than for travelling stock," Mr Prow said.
He said there are quite a few bores in western Queensland that are simply not equipped for travelling stock.
Mr Prow was disappointed not to be included to meet with the Minister Scott Stewart while in Charleville and said he could have given him a first hand account on the state of the stock route.
Roma-based Bill Little, who is one of biggest users of the route, said travelling stock use 10 per cent of the network, while the balance is grazed by very little or at no cost.
"I believe it is driven by people with a vested interest who are making the recommendations," Mr Little said.
"I believe the primary network should be free of grazing if there is an increase in travelling stock fees."
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin applauded the Minister's leadership in moving this critical issue forward.
"We congratulate the Government in its decision to bring this to conclusion for the benefit of industry, communities and producers, and look forward to working closely and collaboratively with the Minister and other stakeholders," he said.
"Our aspiration is that we will soon see a functional, active route for travelling stock that serves Queensland for centuries to come."
Local Government Association of Queensland President Mark Jamieson welcomed the release of the discussion paper.
"Queensland councils have been seeking stock route reform over several decades to ensure the future sustainability of the network, a critical resource for the state's agricultural sector," Mayor Jamieson said.
"The LGAQ looks forward to working with the Minister, the department and our member councils as reform discussions continue."
Mr Stewart said the review is about making sure users of the network are paying a fair and reasonable price for the benefits that they gain, ensuring that every cent that is generated from users' fees is reinvested in managing the network, reducing councils' administrative costs.
An interactive consultation website is live where people can find out more information about Queensland's stock route network and provide feedback via an online survey.
To provide feedback on the discussion paper, visit haveyoursay.resources.qld.gov.au/stock-route.