Key rural and regional initiatives in Federal Budget

The Australian Government has delivered on its election commitments to the agricultural sector, providing a substantial increase in funding for biosecurity and rural research and development.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the Government would provide an additional $100 million over four years for collaborative projects involving rural research and development corporations.

“This funding will be used to provide grants for projects which focus on delivering cutting edge technologies and applied research, with an emphasis on how research outcomes will be applied by farmers,” Senator Ruston said.

“This is a fantastic outcome for the nation’s farmers and food sector. The long-term success of agriculture in Australia will rely heavily on staying ahead of our overseas competitors in technology, science and innovation.”

Senator Ruston also welcomed an additional $20 million over four years to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine arrangements.

“Maintaining and enhancing Australia’s relative freedom from pests and diseases is another crucial investment in the future of our farming sector.”

The Government will also provide $15 million over four years to support small exporters in sectors where there are specific export registration charges.

She said the Budget also contained full provision for the Government’s $320 million drought support package, which includes up to $280 million for concessional loans to eligible farm businesses affected by drought.

Senator Ruston said the farming and mining sectors would also welcome the Government’s retention of the diesel fuel rebate.

“While all motorists will contribute to repairing the Budget and funding major road infrastructure with indexation of the fuel excise, the Government recognises that off-road fuel use should be rebated the excise,” she said.

“The $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund will help construct and improve infrastructure in regional communities, building on the $342 million Community Grants Development Program and the priority rollout of the National Broadband Network to regions with the poorest internet services.

“A further $550 million is being committed to the Roads to Recovery and Black Spot programs – these funds will help improve road safety and economic and social outcomes in rural and regional Australia.”

Senator Ruston also welcomed additional resources for rural and regional health, including an additional $6 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“The Government will provide an additional $35.4 million over two years for the General Practice Rural Incentives Program, which provides relocation and retention incentives encouraging medical practitioners to work in under-serviced rural, regional and remote areas,” she said.

“Another $13.4 million over three years will fund an additional 500 nursing and allied health scholarships; scholarships with a value of up to $30,000 each will target workforce shortages in rural and remote areas in line with the Government’s election commitment.

“The Abbott Government’s first Budget not only delivers on its election commitments to farmers, but also an excellent outcome for rural, regional and remote Australia.”

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