SUBJECT/S: 2015 Budget, Agriculture Policy

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE: Last night Barnaby Joyce broke a new record by calling upon his Treasurer to change a key Budget measure twenty four hours after the Budget was delivered. His explanation was that the announcement on tax depreciation for farmers wasn’t supposed to be made until the White Paper comes out.  Now that might be July, it might be December this year. His point was farmers will still have to wait until 2017.  There just wouldn’t have been as big a gap between the announcement and the start-up date.

Since February 2014 Tony Abbott has been raising false hopes for drought affected farmers and announcing policies that have been a failure and which do nothing for drought affected farmers. He keeps re-announcing his Concessional Loans Program.  Money he can’t spend so he re-announces it and re-announces it again. He can’t spend it because farmers have rejected it as any sort of solution for their problems. So it’s time Tony Abbott stopped raising false hope and started delivering something substantial for farmers. Barnaby Joyce also talks about more people being on Farm Household Allowance to assist them with drought.  Well, guess what - there wasn’t any real drought when they first came to office.  So of course people weren’t getting Farm Household Allowance back then. In additional to all this of course, last year’s Budget is still biting rural and regional Australia harder than it is our city cousins. Cuts to health and education fuel tax rises etc all hit hardest in rural and regional Australia and all hit hardest rural communities being affected by drought. It’s about time Tony Abbott stopped the spin and did something for farmers and the communities around them in rural and regional Australia.

JOURNALIST: Do you welcome the asset write-off program, it’s going to be one they can access the main one but also a separate one, I understand for farmers?

FITZGIBBON: The assets write-off program, oh yes, the depreciation schedule. Well this is what I’m talking about. We welcome it.  It’s a sensible move to improve cash flow.  The problem is that many farmers have now been in drought for three years and the announcement on Tuesday night tells them that they can now get a new depreciation schedule but not until 2017. Well, we all hope and pray that the drought will be over in 2017 and now Barnaby Joyce is saying “mea culpa” we got that wrong.  This is one of the centrepieces of their Budget and he is now lobbying, twenty four hours after the Budget was delivered, lobbying the Treasurer to change it. Well I hope he is successful.  But it just shows this is a Government not properly focused on the real problems being faced by people on the land.        


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