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Few surprises in mid-year budget update

19 December 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today urged the Government to remain steadfast in its commitment to vital economic reform, including lowering company tax rates to attract investment, following the release of the mid-year budget update.

The Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) reaffirmed a predicted return to budget surplus by 2021. Treasurer Scott Morrison reported the national deficit had shrunk by $600 million to $36.5 billion in the past financial year.

Acting NFF Chief Executive Officer Sarah McKinnon said today’s budget update showed a government steadying at the wheel, with mixed outcomes for the agriculture sector.

“We’re pleased to see renewed funding for national water initiatives, a new Regional Broadband Scheme and ongoing commitment to the National Broadband Network (NBN), as well as new biosecurity system enhancements, plans for improved chemical registration processes and continued investment in agricultural leadership.”

Ms McKinnon said it was disappointing however to see $10 million from the Rural Research and Development for Profit program, a key commitment of the Agriculture White Paper, and cuts to Landcare funding.

“Time and time again, the National Landcare Program becomes the ‘go to’ budget offset. While it’s good to see savings from the demise of the Green Army going into Landcare, a significant proportion has been siphoned off to pay for other commitments.”

Other announcements in today’s update include increases in remote student support, termination of the Industry Skills Fund and the Nannies Pilot program, and measures agreed through the backpacker tax debate.

“The NFF supports government focus on budget repair and the proposed timetable to return to surplus. Good policy combined with strong fiscal accountability is the path to future growth – including company tax cuts to restore our flagging competitiveness and genuine, lasting cuts to recurrent expenditure.

“Overall today’s MYEFO is a largely positive note to end the year on – we look forward to a 2017-2018 Budget of no surprises,” Ms McKinnon said.

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