This is a budget of disappointments for our farming communities, and sets out no vision to build sustainable and competitive agriculture industries.
The Budget reduces Landcare funding, exacerbating the effects of the Government’s determination to ignore the greatest challenge facing agriculture – natural resource sustainability. Meanwhile it provides no clarity on its Green Army program and how it will work with Landcare.
It hinders Australia’s realisation of the opportunities of emerging markets by cutting the development of an Australian Brand for Food Program. And it includes a 4 per cent reduction in Departmental staffing which will hardly improve either policy development or service delivery, together with the abolition of the National Water Commission.
While increased funding for research is welcome, this Budget also cuts important research underway by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporations which fosters sustainable, productive and profitable rural industries.
The Budget hits the purchasing power of farming families and rural communities. The reduction in purchasing power will be more acute for rural families and pensioners in rural communities who face the combination of payment reductions and higher increased costs.
Tony Abbott’s fuel taxes will hit harder because rural people tend to drive greater distances and fuel costs are embedded in the goods they buy.
The GP tax will hurt rural communities which already struggle to secure bulk-billing services. Barnaby Joyce said he wanted to increase farm-gate profitability but the only profit in this Budget is for the Government and it comes at the expense of farming communities.
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 2014