Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has delivered a “classic Labor budget” focused on underpinning job creation, new investment into services, infrastructure and community support.
Building on the December 2020 Budget, health, education and housing were key focus areas with some funding spilling out to the regions, to include regional hospital and police station upgrades.
Notably, Minister Dick recognised the role of agriculture as a driver of recovery from COVID-19, and announced a suite of programs for drought-affected producers, as well as to help producers prepare for future droughts.
Given we have been at the forefront of drought reform for more than five years, last week AgForce General President Georgie Somerset recognised the role we have played in bringing about this result.
With $44 million available to continue current support programs while the current drought lasts, the new drought reform measures announced are worth up to $71.4 million over 4 years, with details as follows:
- The direction of the reforms aligned to the AgForce Agricultural Business Cycle approach and include the grains and cane sectors.
- $1 million for a Farm Management Grants Program supporting risk planning.
- $2 million for $50,000 drought preparedness grants (25pc rebate).
- $3.6 million in interest concessions for $250K ‘drought-ready’ preparedness and recovery loans.
- $1.9 million in interest concessions for emergency interest free $50K carry-on loans.
- $3.6 million in interest concessions for $250K carry-on finance loans.
The budget also outlined further funding for biosecurity operations, to the tune of an additional $8.8 million over four years, broken down as follows:
- $3 million over two years for the response to Fall Armyworm
- $5.3 million over two years to meet state obligations within the National Biosecurity System
- Further, $1.1 million ongoing from 2024-25 for African Swine Fever prevention and preparedness, biosecurity emergency operations and plant diagnostics.
Other key budget take-outs include:
- A $500 million Carbon Reduction Investment Fund, to support ongoing investment into the Land Restoration Fund (LRF) and $61 million over 15 years from 2021-22 for environmental markets and investment initiatives, both of which could contribute to greater recognition of the environmental services landholders provide.
- $70 million over 3 years to support local government infrastructure projects in regional Queensland, with a focus on water and sewerage infrastructure.
- Up to $12 million in additional funding over 3 years for Mobile Black Spot Program.
- $200 million in additional funding as part of a total $1 billion Works for Queensland program for maintenance and minor infrastructure projects by regional councils.
- $16.6 million for upgrade works on the Peak Downs Highway from Clermont – Nebo.
- Bruce Highway benefits from $883 million in additional joint funding for upgrades between Gladstone and Rockhampton, north of Townsville and at Tiaro.
- $47.5 million in this budget to support a $237.5 million jointly-funded plan to upgrade sections of the Landsborough and Capricorn Highways and surrounding roads.
- Inland freight highway will commence, using previously announced funding ($500 million jointly funded) linking Charters Towers and Mungindi.
AgForce will continue to push for funding support for broadacre agriculture and for effective expenditure within these announced programs.