Today marks the three month anniversary of the Abbott Government’s Budget and for rural and regional Australia it is not one which gives rise to celebration.
Spending measures in the agriculture sector were off-set by cuts:
• $483 million to Landcare
• $80 million to Cooperative Research Centres
• $146.8 million to the CSIRO which will cost around 500 jobs
• $11 million to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
• $6.6 million from the scrapping of the National Water Commission
Furthermore, the Budget as a whole impacts disproportionately on those living in rural and regional Australia and the Abbott Government has been urged to rethink some their budget measures:
“Rural and remote Australia has some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the country, coupled with high rates of chronic disease and ongoing difficulties for many in accessing local healthcare services. “Many of our patients are extremely concerned that, should the co-payment be introduced, a visit to the doctor will simply be out of reach for them and their children”.
[Rural Doctors Association – Media Release – 4 August 2014]
"With fuel prices commonly over $1.60 a litre in rural Australia, an increase in the fuel excise will hit rural and regional Australia hard."
[NFF President – The West Australian – 14 May 2014]
Regional universities say they will be disproportionately hit by an across-the-board 20 per cent course funding cut because they have limited scope to increase fees and cannot attract international students to the bush.
[Regional Universities Network – SMH – 13 August 2014]
Rural and regional Australia deserves a fairer and better Budget.