QUEENSLAND farmers have been left underwhelmed by the Palaszczuk government saying for all the talk about the importance of agriculture to the economy, the 2017-18 budget disappointingly falls short of delivering upon the hype.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) President Stuart Armitage said the sector was unanimously underwhelmed by a budget that lacked vision and overlooked the importance and crucial role agriculture plays in Queensland’s rural and regional communities.
Mr Armitage said while there were positives in the budget around investing in regional Queensland jobs and programs, there was a concerning omission and lack of acknowledgment of agriculture’s role in supporting jobs and growth throughout the state.
“The state budget has failed to properly fund and support a vision that rightfully places Queensland agriculture as a major contributor and employer in the state,” Mr Armitage said.
“It is disappointing that the reliable workhorse of rural and regional Queensland appears to be overlooked in the government’s vision for the state.
“We welcome continued investments in drought support, Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority funding, money to help cap bores in the Great Artesian Basin and the $1.3 million Growing Queensland’s Food Exports program, but many issues are under-addressed.”
Mr Armitage said the number one issue across agriculture, and for many other regional businesses, was unsustainable electricity prices. “The government’s plan to address this was outlined prior to the budget,” he said. “However QFF is reserving judgement until some price relief is demonstrated.”
“QFF commend the government’s continued investment into biosecurity through the containment and eradication of white spot disease and panama tropical race 4; however, funding to build much needed capacity is missing.”
“Queensland agriculture has been calling for a considered and substantial bolstering of the state’s biosecurity capabilities to ensure we have a system that appropriately invests in precautionary as well as reactionary measures.”
A major blow was the failure of the State Budget to remove the inefficient stamp duty tax on agricultural insurance. “It was disappointing that the State Government chose not to listen to industry on such simple and pragmatic reforms that would remove barriers and stimulate our sector,” Mr Armitage said.
The government has once again made its funding towards improving water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef a centre piece of its environmental policy allocating $175 million over five years from 2017-18.
“Unfortunately, $35 million a year is not an increase on previously allocated investment to address the issue. It falls well short of matching the government’s rhetoric around the level of improvement that it claims must be made and the funding required to realise the targets that have been set.”
“QFF and industry members will be working with all parties leading up the election to ensure that our vision for agriculture is supported so it continues to be a major pillar of the state’s economy and underpins regional communities.”
“Queensland agriculture needs a government that not only talks up agriculture, but delivers upon its words by providing the right frameworks for our sector to continue growing and realizing its potential,” Mr Armitage said.