INLAND RAIL PROJECT A WELCOME HIGHLIGHT IN THIS YEAR'S FEDERAL BUDGET

Tonight’s Federal Budget has fulfilled the Federal Government’s promise to agriculture with the provision of $8.4 billion funding for the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail project and investment in a range of other welcome initiatives, says national grains industry representative body, GrainGrowers.

David McKeon, GrainGrowers’ General Manager, Policy and Innovation, warmly welcomed the Budget announcement, saying the Inland Rail project to be completed by 2024/25 would ultimately improve freight rates for the grains industry.

However, he called on the Australian Rail Track Corporation to consult closely in the months ahead with those farmers whose properties would be directly affected by the development.

Mr McKeon also called on the Government to recognise that while a landmark project, the Inland Rail Project was just one key element in an overall national freight and supply chain strategy. Efficient freight paths for the entire Australian grains industry were crucial to support export growth and regional economies.

“While the Inland Rail Project is a major step forward, Australia needs a national freight and supply chain strategy which is comprehensive, long term and includes the requirements of the grains industry in moving a crop of more than 62 million tonnes harvested last season efficiently and cost effectively from farms to market,” Mr McKeon said.

“There’s been much talk over many years about the cost of agricultural supply chains and the urgent need for investment. Given the Federal Government’s commitment to identifying the national freight and supply chain priorities, we want to make sure agriculture receives priority planning, investment and regulatory improvements which will underpin this vital export industry and indeed the Australian economy,” he said.

Other Budget initiatives welcomed by GrainGrowers which would benefit the grains sector include:

  • Reduction in the company tax rate for small businesses – set at 27.5 per cent for corporate tax entities with an annual turnover of less than $10 million for 2016/17.
  • Extension of the $20 000 instant asset write off for a further 12 months to allow farmers to immediately deduct the business use portion of a depreciating asset that costs less than $20 000. This measure has now been extended to farm businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million annually (up from $2 million previously).
  • The establishment of a Regional Investment Corporation to foster strong rural and regional communities through the provision of $4 billion in concessional loans.
  • An additional $200 million for a regional growth fund program to fund projects in regions facing major industry restructure following the end of the mining boom 
  • The Federal Government, listening to GrainGrowers, has reversed an earlier decision and is now reallocating funding for membership of the International Grains Council to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
  • $1.1 billion over seven years for the National Landcare Programme.

“GrainGrowers believes the initiatives in tonight’s Federal Budget are on the right track to providing an improved business operating environment. And now is the time for action,” Mr McKeon said. 

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