We won't walk away from bush, QR assures livestockers

Government tells Queensland Rail it must continue transporting livestock, as rail provider reviews options

The Queensland Government has told Queensland Rail (QR) it must continue transporting livestock, amid concerns the state-owned rail provider is planning to dump cattle trains.

Transport Minister John Mickel says he met with Queensland Rail management and farming group AgForce yesterday to "reaffirm" commitment to the agricultural industry.

QR is reviewing its livestock transport options but has agreed to maintain current service levels in the meantime. It says a decision will be reached before the start of the next livestock season in March.

"QR have given us the assurance that they are committed to continuing to consult with the industry, including AgForce, communities and Government about any changes planned," Mickel says.

"I have instructed QR to commit to providing the same level of service that is currently in place whilst the comprehensive consultation continues.

"QR has made a deliberate decision to wait until the recent end of the livestock season before making changes to the business in order to limit the impact on the industry."

Mickel says the changes are necessary to "work towards creating a more sustainable platform for the Queensland livestock business and services".

Stephen Cantwell, the Group Executive General Manager of QR Freight, says the provider has a "long track record of service" to regional Queensland.

QR is "not about to walk away from the bush", he says.

The Opposition says dumping livestock transport would be disgraceful and dangerous for Queensland roads.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Ray Hopper says any move to restrict rail transport will put thousands of extra B-doubles on the roads.

"In my eyes it’s simply disgraceful and I really hope the rail worker representatives and union leaders fight this strongly because it will mean more QR job losses in western towns," he says.

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