High-tech boost for farmers in Federal Budget

Headshot of Nick Butterly
Nick ButterlyThe West Australian
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The Turnbull Government will invest heavily in technology such as new GPS services to help farmers, while pumping additional funds into the fight against biosecurity threats.

The Government has also pledged extra money for regional communities, giving money to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and promising funds for road and infrastructure projects in the bush.

Last Tuesday’s Federal Budget saw the Government commit more than $50 million over four years from 2018-19 to grow agricultural exports through marketing initiatives.

The push would extend the roll-out of agricultural trade counsellors to Australian embassies overseas to places such as the UK, Mexico, Japan and Russia to open up new markets.

The Government also promised to spend another $86 million over four years to build the nation’s biosecurity system to keep out pests. Another $6.6 million would be provided over one year to research the eradication of weeds.

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The Budget papers also detailed how the Government would spend almost $15 million over five years to reduce costs of biosecurity clearances at major sea and air ports to help farmers get their product in and out of the country more efficiently.

As previously flagged, the Government said it would introduce a levy on sea imports on port operators from July next year to raise $360 million to help authorities detect and respond to biosecurity threats.

The Government hailed an investment of $224 million over four years to improve satellite-based positional capabilities across Australia.

The measure will deliver positional data within an accuracy of 3cm- 5cm for regional and metropolitan areas that have phone coverage, and 10cm elsewhere.

The Government said it would give an additional $84 million the Royal Flying Doctor Service to improve access to dental, mental health and emergency aeromedical services in remote areas.

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Budget papers also noted how the Government may yet have a significant liability stemming from the Gillard government’s decision to shut down the live cattle trade to Indonesia in 2011. The action has been brought in the Federal Court by a number of exporters who claim to have been damaged by the decision.

The Budget papers noted the final quantum of damages sought could not be predicted.

The Government said a $1 billion urban congestion fund for road and rail projects at the State level would help farmers get their product to market faster and cheaper.

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