BUDGET: The Australian Government said it is committed to supporting communities impacted by the 2019 North Queensland floods and the ongoing drought. Pic: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
BUDGET: The Australian Government said it is committed to supporting communities impacted by the 2019 North Queensland floods and the ongoing drought. Pic: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

How the federal budget will affect the Western Downs

THE Morrison Government has put $328 million towards growing local food and fibre exports as part of their Economic Recovery Plan for Australia, which is said to support the farm sector’s goal to become a $100 billion industry by 2030.

Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said the investments made will drive jobs and economic growth, cementing agriculture’s role in the nation’s COVID-19 recovery.

“Agricultural exports are critical to Australia’s economic recovery. That’s why this Budget is delivering the $328 million Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters Package,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This suite of reforms will modernise Australia’s export systems by slashing red-tape and streamlining regulation and service delivery for our farmers.”

“We’re making it faster and cheaper for farmers to get their product to market, while retaining the levels of quality and assurance that have made our exports world-class.”

“These investments form part of our Ag 2030 Plan, supporting industry to grow Australian agriculture to a $100 billion by 2030 through modern export systems.”

The support the Australian Government is providing includes:

  • $222.2 million over 4 years for digital services to take farmers to market. This will deliver a modern and reliable digital service to help farmers do business quickly and cost effectively – a single touch point for exporters that is available 24/7.
  • $14.3 million over 3 years for improving regulation post COVID-19 including targeted intervention for the seafood and live export sectors and providing dedicated case managers to help new exporters get on the front foot and existing exporters to expand and diversify their markets.
  • $10.9 million over 3 years for building a more competitive export meat industry and working with industry to streamline export and production costs to remain competitive.
  • $10 million over 4 years for busting congestion for plant export industries. Streamlining border clearances for plant exports by reducing manual processes and improving service times and cost savings for exporters.
  • $71.1 million over 3 years for Australian export services critical to ensuring our products make it to export markets.

Minister Littleproud says “These investments will accelerate innovation and agricultural trade growth, build a resilient and agile agriculture sector and create jobs in rural and regional Australia.”

Agricultural workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the seasonal agricultural workforce, posing major challenges for the 2020-21 summer harvest.

Through the Budget, the Australian Government is investing $17.4 million in relocation assistance and $16.3 million to incentivise young Australians to take up farm work by temporarily changing Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY independence eligibility criteria.

Bushfires and Natural Disasters

The Australian Government is working with states and territories to reduce the impacts of bushfires and recognises the importance of having access to a sophisticated aerial firefighting capability to protect communities and support firefighters on the ground.

To ensure there were no delays in preparations this season, the Australian Government has already committed to boosting its funding to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre by $11 million each year, indexed annually.

This brings the annual Australian Government investment to $26 million, and increasing aerial firefighting capacity to meet peak demand across Australia.

The Australian Government continues to fund response to and recovery from national disasters through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency was established by the Government in response to the severe impact of the 2019-20 bushfires and has delivered $1.2 billion of $2 billion committed for recovery assistance to support households, businesses and communities impacted by the bushfires.

Floods and Drought

The Australian Government is also committed to supporting communities impacted by the 2019 North Queensland floods and the ongoing drought.

The Government is investing $155.6 million over four years to support drought and flood-impacted communities. This includes:

  • $50.0 million in 2020 21 to extend the On farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme,
  • $19.6 million in 2021 22 to extend the drought function of the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency for a further year to continue co-ordination and community engagement for the Government’s response and recovery activities; and
  • $86.0 million over four years from 2020 21, through the Future Drought Fund, to establish eight Drought Resilience and Adoption Hubs that support networks of researchers, farmers, agricultural business and community groups to enhance drought resilience practice, tools and technology.

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