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Treasurer confirms investing in productive infrastructure a priority

25 October 2013

The nation’s peak agricultural body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), has welcomed comments made by the federal Treasurer Joe Hockey this week, focusing on the need to grow Australia’s economy by investing in productive infrastructure.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said such comments were a positive sign from the new Treasurer that the Government would focus on nation building to help restore the economy and improve the state of Australia’s budget bottom line.

“The focus on restoring Australia’s budget to surplus has resulted in a tight fiscal environment over the past few years – an environment that has constrained the opportunities for Australia’s growth industries, like agriculture, to harness their full potential,” Mr Fraser said.

“This week, we have been very pleased to note that the Treasurer has made a number of comments about the need to harness public sector savings and work in partnership with private sector investment to build Australia’s productive infrastructure.

“And given that agriculture is one of the most productive sectors in the country – consistently outperforming other sectors in terms of productivity growth over the past 20 years, and one of the key reasons that Australia avoided a recession during the global financial crisis – this would be a smart move by the Government.

“Quite simply, agriculture is a smart investment. We know there are enormous opportunities ahead for Australian agriculture, with demand for food and fibre expected to boom, particularly from our northern neighbours.

“But we operate in a very competitive environment, so to ensure our sector is well placed to capitalise on this boom – the flow on effects of which would be felt right across the economy – we need to ensure our infrastructure is both capable of helping our farmers increase production, and deal with increased volumes of agricultural produce.

“Infrastructure investments could be made in a range of areas, with benefits for both farmers and the wider community - from improving transport systems such as roads, rail and ports; to investing in irrigation infrastructure and water efficiency measures; to funding the development of agricultural projects in Northern Australia.

“Agriculture is a growth industry, and we look forward to working with the Treasurer and the Government to make this investment – both public and private – happen,” Mr Fraser said.

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