AgForce is calling on the Queensland Government to get on with the job of reforming the state's 2.6 million-hectare network for travelling livestock rather than kicking the issue into the long grass.
AgForce Cattle Board Director Peter Hall said with many parts of Queensland entering their sixth year of drought, ensuring the state's stock routes were managed and maintained properly was now more important than ever.
"The stock route network has been plagued for decades by issues such as overgrazing by producers, unmanaged weed infestations and an inadequate fee structure that meant infrastructure such as watering points were not maintained or renewed," he said.
"AgForce joined with councils and the Queensland Government in mid-2017 to hammer out the 'Longreach accord' which outlined eight key requirements for stock route reform, around issues such as fees, oversight, an education program and the development of a state management plan.
"It's incredibly disappointing that Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham is now claiming we can't move forward because drovers, conservationists and indigenous groups - whose views were gathered in previous stock route reform processes - need to be consulted yet again.
"The key stakeholders - landholders, councils and the State Government - all agree on the key principles and all agree urgent reform and investment is needed to ensure the stock route network doesn't end up unusable. Let's just get on with it."
Mr Hall said the Queensland Government was only being asked to maintain capital funding for water facilities and make a modest investment to support a transition process to allow councils to take more responsibility for managing the stock route network.
"The Minister is not the only one being asked to put his hand in his pocket. AgForce has actually backed fair fees for long term grazing as well as price increases for travelling stock, with the money raised to be reinvested into network maintenance," he said.
"We know fee increases are not likely to be popular among some of our members but we're prepared to back higher fees if the return is a sustainably-run stock route network for current and future generations to use.
"We have the model, the conditions and the draft legislation. Efforts to reform the stock route network must not stall now."
Source: AgForce QLD