Jobs, drought and swimmer safety focus of $525M agriculture and fisheries budget

The Palaszczuk Government’s budget will invest in greater swimmer safety with more than $17 million in additional funding over the next four years for the Shark Control Program.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the significant funding boost would support the maintenance and operation of the existing network of shark control equipment at key locations and educating swimmers about the dangers posed by sharks.

“We will also be conducting more research into new swimmer safety technology such as drones,” Mr Furner said.

“The increased 2019-20 budget for agriculture and fisheries is $525 million and contains ongoing funding to support producers grappling with serious and persistent drought conditions across much of the state.

“We have set aside more than $74.6M over the next four years for continuation of the multi-agency Drought Assistance Package, as well as support for implementing Queensland drought reform, delivering on our commitments under the National Drought Agreement.

“There is $11.7M available over the remaining three years of the world-leading Queensland Drought and Climate Adaptation Program.”

Mr Furner said the Budget allocations for drought recovery and resilience were investing in jobs today and for the future

“These are critical measures to support farmers and regional communities so jobs are protected and drought-affected industries can bounce back.”

Mr Furner said biosecurity was another critical area with control and eradication programs for red imported fire ants, electric ants, exotic fruit flies in the Torres Strait, and pest weeds continuing, and an additional $12.1M for Panama disease over five years.

“The Palaszczuk Government has also provided additional funding of $3.6M over three years for Queensland to meet its obligations within the National Biosecurity System, including strengthening Australia’s Fruit Fly System,” Mr Furner said.

“We will continue to progress the Queensland Biosecurity Capability Implementation Program and provide grant funding for maintaining wild dog fencing to support the growth of Queensland’s sheep industry.

“These are strategic investments supporting regional Queensland businesses today and growing our economy for the future.”

The Budget also includes $10.6M over two years for ongoing reform of our fisheries.

“These are vital reforms to protect jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industries, building a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren,” Mr Furner said.

“This includes $1M for installing fish-attracting structures in South East Queensland to promote recreational fishing, $1.1M to further enhance our fisheries compliance system, and further review of fisheries regulations to better reflect community expectations.”

Mr Furner said a strategy for agri-business and food industry developmentwas underway, which would encourage employment growth and private sector investment in the sector.

“We are also about to begin working with industry on a 10-year roadmap to achieve zero net emissions in the agriculture sector by 2050,” he said.

“This will see the adoption of a range of technologies to promote cleaner production systems for intensive agriculture that reduce carbon emissions and nutrient sediment discharge.”

Other budget highlights:

  • $7M over two years is provisioned to support cessation of Queensland Agricultural Colleges at the end of 2019 and to transition to a more modern training model
  • $8M for safety improvements and site and equipment upgrades to research and operational facilities, including $1.7M to upgrade Toowoomba’s Tor Street site and Leslie Research Facility
  • $700,000 to begin refurbishing the Wacol Tick Fever Centre
  • developing a Queensland Government policy on the future of timber production in State-owned native forests.

/Public Release. View in full here.