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Tense times on crowded stock routes

Virginia Tapp, Wednesday July 3, 2013 - 12:18 EST
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One third of Queensland has been drought-declared - ABC

A Western Queensland mayor says the stock route in his shire will stay open despite a lack of feed and water.

The Blackall Tambo stock route has carried up to 18,000 head of cattle in recent weeks, leading to tensions among graziers, drovers, council and the State Government.

Queensland stock routes hadn't been used for several good seasons, but this year the drought means these public pathways are very busy.

David Moore, of Strathfield Station, east of Mount Isa, was forced to truck cattle away from the route near Blackall last week because it was too crowded.

"With those Brinkworth cattle coming down and the cattle that have been placed in front of us, I think it's going to be very, very hard to utilise those stock routes without trucking water in, so I just decided that I'll truck them out and sell them."

Mayor of the Blackall Tambo regional council, Barry Muir, says stock routes are only required to have enough feed. It's up to the drovers to organise water.

"There is still water available there if the drovers negotiate with property owners, which has been done by one drover.

"There hasn't been that many cattle on the routes in past years because of the advent of road transport, so at this point in time it's unusual circumstances.

"People get pretty emotional when they want to keep them on feed for a while. They'll try every trick they can do."

Mr Muir also says the Queensland Government should leave management of stock routes up to local councils.

"There was controversy up around Winton because they seemed to be getting not enough feed, but the department officers went up there and said it wasn't, so they overturned it.

"I have a bit of a problem with that, because if they want local authorities and stock route managers to manage it, they need a bit better co-ordination than that.

"It might have been marginal, but it doesn't help when you make a call with judgement and then have it overturned."

But the Minister for Natural Resources, Andrew Cripps, says the State Government reviews decisions to ensure impartiality in stock route management.

"If there are conditions that the applicant thinks are unreasonable, applied to them by a council, this provides the applicant an opportunity to seek natural justice as a result of a decision that they feel is unfair in that situation."

Stock route applicants have upward referred their permits to the State Department on two occasions in recent weeks, because they felt the local council had rejected their application unfairly.

The Department of Natural Resources overturned one ruling by the Winton Council, which rejected an application to use the stock route, but later upheld another ruling by the Blackall Tambo council which prevented a mob accessing the route.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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