is a native leek found on Queensland stock routes.
Photo © Alison Goodland
The future of the Stock Route Management Network Bill is unknown. The Anna Bligh Government simply ran out of time.
In 2008 Wildlife Queensland together with other like-minded organisations initiated a campaign to protect the Stock Route Network (SRN) and enhance its management.
As well as support for the development and enactment of stand alone Stock Route Legislation, other prime objectives included:
- The SRN is not disposed of or leased in part or whole nor further fragmented and rehabilitation occurs where necessary.
- The primary purpose is to accommodate the needs of travelling stock.
- Other values including biodiversity, Aboriginal heritage and cultural values, post settlement heritage, social and tourism be protected and appropriately managed.
- Phase out static grazing within an acceptable time frame.
- The role of the SRN in mitigating against climate change be acknowledged.
- Objects of the Act include protection of biodiversity, Aboriginal heritage and cultural values, post settlement heritage and other values besides the primary purpose of accommodating the needs of travelling stock.
- Head of power in the Act for the State Government to make a plan for the entire network enforceable by regulation.
- Local governments, where required, produce management plans adopting as a minimum the standards set in the State plan.
- Ensure local governments have the powers to deal with breaches of regulations and plan for both biodiversity and heritage protection.
- Consider providing more detail, referencing or defining the criteria for assessing various matters.
- The Stock Route Assessment Panel must include persons with expertise on conservation/environment and aboriginal cultural heritage.
What is the stock routes network?
Stock routes network is 72,000km in length covering 2.6m ha of public lands. Each trail varies in width from 60 to 1600 m wide and is deemed to be a public road. Although the primary purpose is to support bona fide travelling stock, the linkage across the landscape ensures the network possesses conservation, cultural heritage and other values. Currently most of the stock route network is managed by individual local authorities in accordance with guidelines provided by the State. This approach permits considerable variation in management particularly in relation to non commercial values.
What is the issue?
Only about 40% of the network is actively used legitimately. New South Wales was disposing of non-use sections of their stock route and there was a genuine concern the Queensland Government may follow. This icon must be retained and sections should not be sold or fragmented. Besides its prime use of moving stock, it acts as wildlife corridors connecting across the landscape, protects cultural heritage values and buffers against climate change impacts. The management of all its values must be enhanced.
What is required for the Stock Routes Network?
- Stand alone legislation.
- A State Government plan setting mandatory minimum standards to be adopted by local authorities for use of the various sections protecting biodiversity and all other values.
- Strict grazing standards reflecting use requirements of the various sections.
- A transparent and accountable compliance program.
After three years or more of negotiations with ministers, relevant departmental staff, and even with AgForce, in an attempt to resolve some differences, a Bill was presented to the House. Although not perfect from our perspective, the Bill more than adequately addressed the majority of issues raised. Following due process the Bill was then referred to the Committee for public hearings and further submissions.
Wildlife Queensland seized this opportunity to further enhance what was already a sound Bill. The Committee reported on 6 February 2012 - the report is available here.
It is pleasing to note that several of Wildlife Queensland’s recommendations received support including the recognition of the concept of land connectivity, comprehensive evaluation of all the values of the SRN and enhanced collection of data.
In total the Committee made 16 recommendations some of which may have weakened the Bill from Wildlife Queensland’s perspective. These are related to certain aspects of grazing but until the actual legislative clauses are to hand it is not feasible to determine a definite position. It is obvious from the report that 6 of the recommendations reflected a majority view of the Committee and were not unanimous. The most concerning was that the recommendation that the Bill be passed subject to the recommendations in the report was not carried unanimously. This leads Wildlife Queensland to the opinion that should Labor not form Government after the election then changes to the Bill will occur. A new battle for enhanced management of the iconic stock routes - the long paddock as it is affectionately known-will need to recommence. Time only will tell.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.