The centrepiece of the Turnbull Government’s agriculture policy remains low interest loans to farmers and State Governments in the lowest interest rate environment in living memory.
The Turnbull Government continues to offer loans at rates above its own borrowing costs and claims the total value of the loans as a headline-grabbing spend.
Farmers in drought don’t want more debt and State Governments can’t afford more debt. The ‘$2 billion’ loans program to build un-specified dams will never be taken up.
This was the first of many disappointments for rural and regional communities in a budget which also featured:
• More Government flip-flopping over the Backpacker Tax
• Income tax cuts that cut in too high to benefit an average-income family in any regional electorate
• Cuts to health and education that will harm regional communities
• The continuation of Malcolm Turnbull’s second rate NBN
• No change to Tony Abbott’s plan for $100,000 university degrees, which will hit regional students hard
• Vocational education and training continuing to be ignored
• The withdrawal of funding for the mysterious co-operatives program from the Agriculture White Paper
• The Inland Rail project remaining on the never-never
• Further cuts to agriculture research and development spending.
As usual, while there was plenty of hype in the Budget about dams; soil health, sustainability and productivity failed to rate a mention.
This may be a Budget for high income earners and big business, but it offers nothing for agriculture and our rural and regional communities.
WEDNESDAY, 4 MAY 2016