Asset write-off increase welcomed

Countryman
Moora farmers Bree and Jaden Cocking with their children Bart, 6, and Quinn, 9.
Camera IconMoora farmers Bree and Jaden Cocking with their children Bart, 6, and Quinn, 9. Credit: Ian Munro

Like most farmers, Bree and Jaden Cocking have their “heads down and are busy getting on with it”, when Federal Budget time rolls around each year.

But a few things in Tuesday’s Budget caught the Moora sheep and grain farmers’ attention, including a $3.9 billion emergency response fund to help farmers and the continuation and increase of a small business tax break.

Ahead of the Budget, the Cockings were hopeful the $25,000 instant asset write-off for small business would be continued beyond 2020, after previously using it to buy equipment for the farm.

It was, as well as being boosted to $30,000 and changed to allow businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million to use it, up from the prior turnover cap of $10 million.

The Cockings had also hoped for a reduction in stamp duty fees, and for boarding school fees to qualify as a tax deduction, neither of which was included in the Budget.

While they also welcomed an additional $220 million for heart disease research, they also hoped for additional investment into mental health and cancer research, areas Mr Cocking said had a “huge impact on people living in the country”.

Mr Cocking welcomed the $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund and said he was looking forward to reading “the finer details”.

“My thoughts go straight away to our friends in the Lakes District, farmers need some sort of infrastructure for water,” he said.

“Government assistance for water projects makes a big difference ... it helps a lot.”

Mr Cocking also welcomed the increased refunds for farmers through the luxury car tax, which was boosted from $3000 to $10,000.

The couple have farmed at Moora for 14 years, carrying on the family’s five-generation farming legacy in the sheep and grain-growing area 185km north-east of Perth.

Together, they turn over about a million dollars each year, which Mr Cocking said “sounded good on paper” but included a range of costly overheads including fertiliser, insurance, fuel, machinery, rates and farm maintenance.

They pay their own wages, and those of between six to nine staff at any one time during the year.

Like all farmers, the Cockings’ income fluctuates depending on weather, commodity prices, the Australian dollar and market confidence.

“We have significant debt on the farm, for the land itself and the machinery,” Mr Cocking said.

“We do a budget and we stick to it. We have high input costs and plan accordingly.”

Their main investments include their farm land, machinery, and their 7000 Cranmore-blood Merino flock of sheep.

Boarding school fees are a huge expense for the family, with their eldest child, 12-year-old Darcy, in Year 7 in Perth.

Ideally, the Cockings would like to see a tax deduction created for boarding school fees, administrated through a means test.

“When you are paying upwards of $50,000 to send your child away, it is a pure out of pocket expense,” Mr Cocking said.

They also wanted to see the GST spread “continually checked” to allow WA a “fair go”, and to “see that money reach regional areas”.

Mr Cocking said making towns like Moora attractive to live in was “invaluable”, and helped businesses like his to thrive with good quality staff.

“The single most important part of our business is the people,” he said.

“Without a great town offering services, and a community where small businesses thrive with employment opportunities, our business wouldn’t exist.

“Government is crucial for growing business hubs in towns like Moora.”

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