Qld Budget: Farmers safe from sharks

Qld Budget: Trad keeps farmers safe from sharks


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SAFE FROM SHARKS: Farmers say today's budget has little to offer agriculture, saying it is for coastal cities and its votes.

SAFE FROM SHARKS: Farmers say today's budget has little to offer agriculture, saying it is for coastal cities and its votes.

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Farmers say today's budget has little to offer agriculture, saying it is for coastal cities and its votes.

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QUEENSLAND farmers have dismissed Treasurer Jackie Trad's claims that Tuesday's budget is "for regional Queensland", saying it is a budget for coastal cities and their votes.

AgForce chief executive officer Michael Guerin said the budget proved that the Government did not understand agriculture, and had no clear vision for its future development.

"While agricultural regions get a mention in the treasurer's budget speech, they get little else," Mr Guerin said.

"It is clear that Government doesn't value agriculture strongly enough nor understand its vital role in the economic, employment and social fabric of rural, regional and remote Australia."

When the headline program in the agriculture portfolio is a shark netting program, that tells you everything you need to know about the government's attitude towards primary production. - Michael Guerin, AgForce

Mr Guerin heaped scorn on the agriculture budget's showcase offering.

"When the headline program in the agriculture portfolio is a shark netting program, that tells you everything you need to know about the government's attitude towards primary production," he said.

"This government continues to demonstrate that it has no vision for the ongoing development and sustainability of broadacre agriculture, which contributes nearly $8 billion to the state economy every year.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad.

"We need a well-funded agribusiness and food industry development strategy, and hope the State Government supports the one we are currently working on with the Department of Agriculture."

Mr Guerin said a visionary road map for the food and agriculture sectors was the best way to support the regions, by encouraging employment growth and private sector investment.

He said farmers acknowledged the efforts to support agriculture recover from recent natural disasters and to manage through drought.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said more than $17 million to be spent over the next four years for the Shark Control Program.

Mr Furner said the significant funding boost would support the maintenance and operation of the existing network of shark control equipment at key locations and educating swimmers about the dangers posed by sharks.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.

"We will also be conducting more research into new swimmer safety technology such as drones," he said.

Mr Furner said the 2019-20 budget for agriculture and fisheries was $525m and contained ongoing funding to support producers grappling with serious and persistent drought conditions across much of the state.

"We have set aside more than $74.6m over the next four years for continuation of the multi-agency Drought Assistance Package, as well as support for implementing Queensland drought reform, delivering on our commitments under the National Drought Agreement," he said.

"There is $11.7m available over the remaining three years of the world-leading Queensland Drought and Climate Adaptation Program."

Mr Furner said biosecurity was another critical area with an additional $12.1m for Panama disease over five years.

"The Palaszczuk government has also provided additional funding of $3.6m over three years for Queensland to meet its obligations within the National Biosecurity System, including strengthening Australia's Fruit Fly System," Mr Furner said.

LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor was slashing and burning the once great Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

"The department will lose more than 106 full time equivalent staff including staff from Biosecurity Queensland and the Queensland Rural Industry Development Authority," Ms Frecklington said.

"Labor's cuts to frontline biosecurity staff is a disgrace and a massive blow to farmers and the wider industry.

"There is no extra funding to combat feral pests and weeds that are running rampant across our state."

Ms Frecklington said while the number of bureaucrats in Brisbane had grown more than 25,000 since 2015, the departments that support rural and regional industries continued to miss out.

"Labor don't care about farmers and the regions they support," she said.

Other budget measures announced by the Palaszczuk government included:

- $7m over two years to support cessation of Queensland Agricultural Colleges at the end of 2019 and to transition to a more modern training model.

- $8m for safety improvements and site and equipment upgrades to research and operational facilities, including $1.7m to upgrade Toowoomba's Tor Street site and Leslie Research Facility.

- $700,000 to begin refurbishing the Wacol Tick Fever Centre.

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