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Biosecurity was a big focus for this year's Federal Budget, with agribusinesses also set to benefit from energy bill relief and the instant asset write-off.
The centrepiece of this year’s budget for the agricultural sector is $1b over the forward estimates (and $268m annually ongoing) and for a strengthened biosecurity system. There is an additional $127m for DAFF departmental funding in 2022-23 to cover the gap for increased operational activities.
Most of this funding ($845m over the forward estimates), will be directed on policy, operational and technical funding to enable the department to cover increased biosecurity activity.
The Budget also provides for $38.4m for agricultural sustainability, $5m for animal welfare, $5.6m for an independent assessment of the phase-out of live sheep export and $20m for a National Soil Action Plan.
The instant asset write-off continues on a temporary basis for 2023-24, although in pared-back form. Multiple assets can be claimed, but the maximum amount per asset is $20,000.
The Budget also funds a new National Net Zero Authority, which was welcomed by the NFF, although with some concerns around electricity transmission easements.
While the government has a large infrastructure pipeline (around $120b over a decade), the future of these projects will now be subject to an independent strategic review. While the government has committed to prioritising projects currently under construction and election commitments, it is unclear whether other projects will be amended, delayed or cancelled.
The government will also increase the Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge rate from 27.2c/l in 2023–24 to 32.4c/l in 2025–26. This is expected to raise around $1.1b, which will reduce expenditure on the fuel tax credit. With much agricultural produce moved by road, this change will have implications for transport costs.
Cost of living pressures have been felt acutely across the country, but out data shows regional Australia seeing even higher pressures than capital cities. The budget provides a number of cost of living measures nationwide, including:
Regional Australia enjoys a specific boost in GP payments. The government is investing $3.5b to encourage GPs to bulk bill under-16s, concession card holders and pensioners. Regional GPs will receive a higher payment than metropolitan GPs.
The government has also expanded eligibility for the First Home Guarantee and the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee. From July 1 it will include any two eligible borrowers, such as friends and siblings, beyond married or de facto couples, and be available to non-first home buyers if they haven’t owned a property in Australia in the last 10 years.
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