AgForce has welcomed the latest Federal Government Budget which invests $17 billion investment into rural Queensland – but believes there is still a long way to go.
While this commitment to regional communities is a vote of confidence for the future of our State, significantly more investment is needed to bring our vision to life.
A highlight for AgForce members is the delivery of $1.3 billion over six years to regional communications, including a previous announcement of $481 million to expand and improve the nbn network plus $811.8 million to address mobile coverage, connectivity, resilience and affordability in regional Australia.
This commitment acknowledges the significant challenges highlighted by the Regional Telecommunications Review.
Budget spending on regional development and infrastructure includes:
- $6 billion for QLD water infrastructure projects in the National Water Grid
- $1.5 billion over 10 years for priority projects including the Outback Way, the Northern Australia Roads Program and $40 million for the Bridges Renewal Program
- $2.0 billion over 5 years to bring together programs under a new Regional Accelerator Program (RAP)
- a further $2.0 billion to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility
Aligned with AgForce’s priority to see primary producers recognised and rewarded for their sustainable management of landscapes and their natural capital, we welcome initiatives in the Budget that will help underpin this including:
- Tax concessions for carbon abatement and biodiversity stewardship income
- the development of a Biodiversity Stewardship Trading Platform
- more timely approvals under federal environmental (EPBC) legislation
Support for RRR health, childcare and education services is also needed and the Budget goes some way towards addressing those critical and ongoing needs.
There are also some positive initiatives for small businesses, including the six-month halving of fuel excise, additional technology adoption deductions and extension of the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme to mid-2023 for disaster impacted producers.
However, the already partly funded commitment of $61.6 million over 4 years for to improve biosecurity efforts across northern Australia (including addressing the current lumpy skin disease threat), falls far short of the sustainable ongoing funding model needed to protect the integrity of our industries against such regularly occurring biosecurity threats, and is possibly a missed opportunity to embed ongoing critical funding arrangements.
To conclude, for these mostly pre-announced commitments to result in real on-ground outcomes we need sustained bi-partisan support at both State and Federal levels and a shared vision for development in Queensland, which to date has been lacking.
Agriculture is on trajectory of growth - now is the time to supercharge the industry and the rural and regional communities that rely on it.
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