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Federal Budget 2018: What it means for rural and agribusiness

Federal Budget 2018: What it means for rural and agribusiness

The focus for regional infrastructure investment shifted from rail to road this year, with Treasurer Scott Morrison proposing a $3.5bn package to upgrade Australia’s key freight routes as part of the 2018 Federal Budget.

Speaking to Parliament, the Treasurer said the Government planned to roll out its Roads of Strategic Importance initiative over the next 10 years.

Other road funding proposals included:

  • $3.3bn for continued upgrades to the Bruce Highway in Queensland
  • $971m for the Coffs Harbour bypass in NSW
  • $160m for the Outback Way, connecting Laverton in WA with Winton in Queensland

The Treasurer also promised $28.3m to extend the remote airstrip upgrade program for a further 4 years.

Plans for biosecurity

The Federal Government plans to invest $102 million in biosecurity, including national action plans for dealing with pests and disease and trialling new technology to speed up biosecurity clearance procedures.

There’s also a commitment of $20m to tackle a fruit fly outbreak in Tasmania.

The Government proposed raising $360m over the forward estimates via a new levy on sea imports, slated for introduction on 1 July 2019.

The Treasurer also committed $51.3m to funding 6 agricultural counsellors to represent Australia in emerging export markets.

In addition, the Government proposed expanding an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) study into seasonal agricultural labour demand and supply, with a view to helping address skills shortages.

Proposals that might also be of interest to farmers and agribusinesses:

  • $225m to develop standardised satellite data and GPS technology - but no new funding for the mobile blackspot program
  • $6.6m for pest and weed control
  • $6.3m to improve access to ag-vet chemicals
  • $3.6m over 3 years for the Indonesia-Australia red meat and cattle partnership
  • $20m for the National Forestry Industry Plan

Renewed funding for infrastructure, grants programs

The Treasurer announced plans to extend the Building Better Regions Fund, promising another $200m for regional infrastructure projects.

He also pledged $22.5m for another round of the Stronger Communities Program, which allows MPs to make grants of up to $20,000, plus $1.2bn for local councils towards the 2018-19 financial assistance grant program.

The instant tax write-off for small business asset purchases up to $20,000 is also slated for extension for one year.

Health and housing

The Treasurer announced a proposed new workforce initiative program to include the establishment of 5 regional medical schools across the Murray Darling Basin.

Other proposals:

  • $84m in additional funding to the Royal Flying Doctor Service for improved rural and remote access to dental, mental health and emergency medical services
  • $550m to address remote housing needs in the Northern Territory, plus $1.7bn through the primary healthcare model

Keep in mind

Any changes outlined in the Federal Budget must be passed by both the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the government, and the Senate, where proposed expenditures are subject to examination within Senate estimates hearings. This means any proposed cuts or changes outlined above may not necessarily become law.

Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. 

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. Commonwealth Bank is also not a registered tax (financial) adviser under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and you should seek tax advice from a registered tax agent or a registered tax (financial) adviser if you intend to rely on this information to satisfy the liabilities or obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under a taxation law.