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Federal Budget 2006: What Farmers Want

2 May 2006

In its pre-Budget submission to government, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) called for key tax reforms, greater spending on Australia’s regional road and rail, and port network and genuine recognition of the role farmers play in delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the broader community.

In the wake of recent Budget speculation, along with the Government already announcing the NFF’s Environmental Stewardship program, the NFF is hopeful that next week’s Federal Budget may deliver on other priorities for farmers as a major platform for forward national economic planning.

This would be appropriate and timely given the enormous contribution Australian agriculture makes to the economy – generating $72 billion in production (representing over 12% of GDP) and driving $30 billion exports each year, while supporting 1.6 million jobs across our cities and regions.

The NFF has strongly put the case to allow more farmers to access the same Capital Gains Tax concessions that are already available to small business operators. This would free-up impediments to agricultural investment and assist in orderly succession planning – a major issue in restructuring the family farm sector.

Speculation the Budget will contain a $1 billion upgrade of transport infrastructure (roads, rail and ports) would deliver a vital injection to the competitiveness of Australian export industries, principally agriculture where export growth is essential. Importantly, the package needs to ensure any road funding targets rural roads, not just major highways – farmers need to be able to efficiently get their produce to the national highways.

In regard to infrastructure spending, on Budget night NFF will be scrutinising Government investment in the Future Fund. The NFF believes the Government should meet all reasonable calls on the Budget in terms of investment in infrastructure, regulatory and tax reform necessary to generate economic growth, before putting funds into the Future Fund.

“While we will naturally reserve judgement until we see the detail on Budget night, we’re encouraged by the recent spate of Budget speculation suggesting our program for driving ‘nation building’ reforms focusing on growth, prosperity and sustainability appears to be getting traction,” NFF CEO Ben Fargher said.

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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