This week’s State Budget delivers on the Palaszczuk Government’s minimal election commitments for Queensland agriculture, but won’t drive the industry forward.
The Budget contained no surprises for Queensland farmers, was disappointing in its lack of vision and is unlikely to generate much excitement in rural communities.
Agriculture is one of the pillars of the Queensland economy and the fastest growing industry in Australia, but was largely forgotten in a State Budget focused more on big spending infrastructure initiatives in the south-east corner.
AgForce acknowledges the continuation of existing drought support funding, but would have liked additional measures to relieve cost pressures on communities and primary producers suffering through their sixth year of drought.
Programs like Works for Queensland and Building Our Regions will help maintain critical infrastructure in regional areas, but it was disappointing there appears to be minimal direct new funding for essential freight network projects that would make it safer, easier and cheaper to get farm goods to market.
While the $5 million over two years for wild dog exclusion cluster fencing is welcome and a good start, AgForce believes $5 million a year is needed to meet the strong demand and ensure the job gets done promptly.
The $4 million over two years to establish a scientific program to support an enhanced Statewide Landcover and Trees Study examining regrowth was a long overdue response to AgForce’s calls for the Queensland Government to look at the full picture on vegetation management.
Unfortunately though, the positives for agriculture in the State Budget are overshadowed by the one big negative of the new vegetation management laws that will shut down new agricultural development opportunities and make it harder for farmers to grow food and fibre.
Overall while the State Budget meets the minimal commitments the Palaszczuk Government made to agriculture, they have missed an opportunity to deliver a convincing vision for the industry to grow and prosper into the future.