Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list

THE National Farmers Federation (NFF) has called on Treasurer Scott Morrison to focus on budget repair, boosting agribusiness confidence and improving farmer success with a regulatory environment that fosters growth, productivity, innovation and ambition.
Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list Improved infrastructure and innovation at the core of NFF Budget wish list

Kristy Moroney

With 15 days to go before the 2017-18 Federal Budget is announced, the NFF has released its yearly budget wish-list representing the interests of farmers across Australia.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the federation and its members had a bold vision for Australian agriculture. 

“In 2017-2018, agricultural production is forecast to tip $68.5 billion – the highest ever. And we believe there is potential for more growth, by 2030 our goal is for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry,” Mahar said.

He said the Government had a significant role to play in seeing the sector achieve this vision.  

“The key message is clear - every cent counts. Whether its money collected through taxes, returns to farmers through trade deals, dollars invested in infrastructure – every cent counts,” Mahar said

"Strategic and forward-thinking economic management is crucial to deliver a more profitable farm sector.”

The NFF’s wish-list includes a reduction in the tax burden, enhanced labour-market flexibility and infrastructure investment – with a focus on improving telecommunications and rail.

Specific key asks include a minimum of $1 billion for the Brisbane to Melbourne inland rail project, $60 million for the Mobile Black Spot Programme and the continuation, in perpetuity, of small business asset write-off provisions.

Mahar said farmers need a regulatory environment that fosters growth, productivity, innovation and ambition – not one that impedes it.

Regarding budget repair, the NFF CEO said it was a priority, but must be pursued in a way that fosters growth.

“Budget repair is not some theoretical concern to food and fibre producers. We need a healthy budget to maintain Australia’s international competitiveness,” he said.

“There must also be measures to boost confidence and provide incentives to work, save and invest,” 

The NFF Federal Budget wish list:

  • At least $1 billion, over the forward estimates, for the Brisbane to Melbourne inland rail link
  • A single turnover-based definition for small businesses between $2 million and $10 million (indexed to ensure the threshold maintains relevance over time)
  • At least $60 million per annum for the Mobile Black Spot Programme, or equivalent program, which prioritises community-identified areas and open-access facilities
  • A single turnover-based definition for small businesses between $2 million and $10 million (indexed to ensure the threshold maintains relevance over time)
  • Provisions to allow taxpayers to opt back in to primary production averaging after 10 years
  • Funding of $290,000 for a Labour Market Needs Analysis and review of the Seasonal Worker Programme, plus $30 million to cover the first year of operation of a revised Seasonal Worker Programme (after which it would be cost neutral)
  • Funding to progress the proposed Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) to strengthen the existing in-market Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) by independently auditing the complete livestock export supply chain - including exporters, importers and in-market facilities
  • A re-balancing of the National Landcare Programme that supports industry-led initiatives that deliver better productivity and sustainability outcomes
  • Action to address community concerns about the impact of gas developments on land and water resources, by investing in the science to understand the cumulative impacts of on-shore gas developments
  • Progression of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Agreement, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership plus the pursuit of an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union and, opportunities for Australia post-Brexit