State Budget Lacks Vision but a Good Start for Councils

While the Budget contains a clear investment in the need for grants reform, LGAQ President Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson says councils will be keen to know more details on the future of the grants funding system.

And AgForce says that although the State Budget contains no surprises for farmers, they remain disappointed in its lack of vision and was unlikely to generate much excitement in rural communities.

state budget 2018
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin says The State Budget delivers on the Palaszczuk Government’s minimal election commitments for Queensland agriculture but won’t drive the industry forward.

“Agriculture is one of the pillars of the Queensland’s economy and the fastest growing industry in Australia, but has been 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 to have seen additional measures to relieve cost pressures on communities and primary producers suffering through their sixth year of drought. “

He says the increased funding for the Works for Queensland and Building Our Regions programs will maintain critical infrastructure in regional areas, and the additional $5 million aimed at supporting regional councils to maintain local workforces is a step in the right direction but won’t go far.

“It is disappointing though that 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.”

Mr Guerin says wild dogs have had a devastating effect on the Queensland sheep industry for decades, but the roll-out of fencing supported by Federal and State Government programs is helping the sector rebuild.

Wild-dog4“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.”.

Mr Guerin said the $4 million over two years to establish a scientific program to support an enhanced State-wide 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.

“While there are some good initiatives for agriculture, the positives 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,” he said.

Other initiatives relevant for agriculture outlined in the State Budget include, but are not limited to:
• $176 million for the Rookwood Weir, which matches the Federal Government contribution to ensure the project goes ahead;
• $3 million over three years for the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance;
• $10 million for the Rural Economic Development Grants Scheme;
• Increased funding of $10.1 million to support grazing and other industry BMP programs in Reef catchments; and
• $200,000 for a study into the removal of stamp duty on agricultural insurance products.

Mr Guerin says AgForce is also disappointed there was no funding for a quad bike safety rebate program for primary producers, no new funding for biosecurity awareness and extension, and no new funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program.

“AgForce will also keep advocating for the intergenerational farm transfer duty exemption to be extended to family trusts and companies, and for stamp duty on agricultural insurance to be removed not just reviewed.”

“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.”

Queensland State Budget A Good Start for Councils

The Local Government Association of Queensland has welcomed the State Government’s 2018-19 budget, saying it contains critical commitment to help ensure Queensland councils continue to provide the services and infrastructure their communities need.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson

While the Budget contains a clear investment in the need for grants reform, LGAQ President Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson says councils will be keen to know more details on the future of the grants funding system.

“Councils will also be disappointed that more than 30 % of the revenue generated by the new waste levy will be channelled into general revenue. We will continue to argue that all of the revenue the levy generates should be spent on building a zero waste future for Queensland sooner rather than later.”

“On this we are on the side of local communities, who have said loud and clear that they want to see the waste levy money drive innovation not go back into general Treasury coffers.”

“While we welcome the $32 million to help minimise the impact on households of the introduction of the waste levy and acknowledge the Government’s pledge to provide $100 million from the new waste levy is a good start, local councils will need to see more detail on the Government’s plans.”

Mayor Jamieson says however that Queensland councils welcomes the announcement of $38 million to establish a Disaster Resilience Fund to deliver resilience and mitigation projects to further protect local communities from the impacts of cyclones, floods and other disaster events.

“We highlighted the need for this fund in our Budget submission so we are pleased the Government has recognised the importance of upfront investment to help better protect communities.”

“Councils are at the forefront of disasters when they strike, and in mobilising the often difficult and lengthy recovery efforts.”