LABOR PUTS AGRICULTURE R&D AT RISK

THE HON. BARNABY JOYCE MP
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES
MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND

The future of Australia’s system of matching agricultural research and development investment would be at risk under a future Labor Government.

Labor’s agriculture policy discloses their intention to review Commonwealth funding of agricultural research and development institutions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition Government will provide more than $260 million in matching funding for agricultural research and development this year.

“Labor’s review of levy funding arrangements is code for Labor wanting to either slash funding or almost as bad, exercise political control over how and on what projects the funding can be used,” Mr Joyce said.  

“The Coalition is strongly committed to the system of matching funding for agricultural R&D levies.

“The Coalition knows that growth in agricultural productivity and profitability is driven by research and development and innovation.

“Labor is in such a desperate budgetary position they will raid money from any source including agricultural research to fund its election commitments.

“Once again, the Coalition will fight tooth and nail to stop any attempt by the Labor-Greens-Independent alliance to cut agricultural R&D matching funds or impose political restrictions on use of levy funds.

“When Labor was last in office they took the axe to the agriculture department, abolished Land and Water Australia and imposed their job-destroying carbon tax.

“There is no need for another review of funding for our agricultural R&D corporations.

“Labor’s new call for a review will send a chill down the spine of all in the sector.

“Industry well remembers that when Labor was last in office it had the Productivity Commission undertake a major inquiry into the sector and that report recommended Labor cut Commonwealth matching funds by 50 per cent.”

“It was only through the work of the Coalition that R&D matching funds were not cut further by Labor at the time.

“Labor was also told very clearly by farmers across the country to keep their grubby hands off industry R&D funds,” Mr Joyce said. 

Mr Joyce said the document released by Labor today is not so much an agriculture policy as a grab-bag of anything they have announced outside of the capital cities.

“Labor has cobbled together a few of its statements on climate, manufacturing, education and roads, added a sprinkling of rural and called it an ag policy.

“Labor has repeated their plans to impose additional native vegetation red-tape on farmers, put political appointees in charge of national animal welfare policy and remove Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny of foreign purchases of farmland under $50 million.

Labor’s agricultural policy fails to:

•          Commit to maintaining the Coalition’s $190 million R&D for Profit programme

•          Commit to the Coalition’s new Country of Origin Labelling system

•          Defend Country Fire Authority volunteers from union bullying

•          Upgrade the Macalister Irrigation District

•          Build the south-west Loddon pipeline

•          Fund Rookwood Weir construction

•          Commit to drought concessional loans and a long term approach to drought policy

•          Expand the rural R&D system by supporting a thoroughbred industry levy.

ENDS

27/06/2016