A stronger economy and a secure future, these were the promises from Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg when he announced a $7.1 billion surplus, tax cuts and extra funding for infrastructure and services to regional Australia in the 2019/20 budget on Tuesday, April 2.
Last night, the Treasurer delivered the first budget surplus in 12 years and stressed several times that expenditure would be achieved without increasing taxes, while announcing lower taxes for 10 million people and three million small businesses.
We are disappointed that, at this stage, we cannot see anything allocated for our key initiatives including mental health support for the seafood industry, support our social licence and community engagement program, help with marine safety, improving our interactions with petroleum industry, additional resources for biosecurity, security of resource access, promotion of Country of Origin Labelling in foodservice, or a commitment to maintaining the current fuel tax credits scheme.
We have contacted Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Richard Colbeck, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud and Minister for Health Greg Hunt to express our disappointment.
It is critical for you, our members, and the entire seafood industry get active between now and the election to ensure we receive our fair share of funding and support.
We will be sending out our lobbying handbook next week which will help you to convey to politicians and decision makers exactly what we need. Also, we are also looking at some other simple and effective ways for you to spread the message.
To keep you in the know about last night’s budget SIA has rounded up the key, top-line points of interest. However, with a Federal election looming in May, pollsters are tipping the government will be unseated by a Shorten-led Labor Party, in which case many budget announcements will not be implemented.
- There are $3.2 billion-worth of “decisions taken but not yet announced”. With still around five weeks until the election, “vote-winning policies” will be announced throughout the campaign period.
- The more than 10 million Aussies who earn between $18,200 and $126,000 a year will receive a some form of tax cut. Most of the tax relief will flow to those earning between $48,001 and $90,000, who will get $1080 cash back in a lump sum after they file their July 1 tax return.
- Small business owners will see the tax rate cut from 27.5 per cent to 26 per cent next year, then 25 per cent in 2021.
- Instant asset write-off will be increased to $30,000 for small businesses and can now be used for multiple assets; and will be extended to businesses with turnover of $50 million, up from $10 million.
- Extra funding for independent reviews of tax office disputes will also be available for small business owners.
- Creation of an Emergency Response Fund to prepare for and react to natural disasters.
- A total of $6.3 billion is being spent to help farmers struggling with drought – to what level commercial fishers are included in this, however SIA will push for the maximum:
- $200 million to increase access to income support;
- A $2.5 million increase in funding to support farmers’ mental health and wellbeing;
- The government is also giving $1 million each to 96 local councils affected by drought to fund infrastructure and drought relief projects.
- An additional $300 million in grants to help flood-affected farmers in North Queensland, adding to the $232 million in relief that had already been made available. These grants will be exempt from income tax.
- $3.9 billion will be used to create an Emergency Response Fund — a stable source of funding to prepare for natural disasters and react to them in the future.
- 220 million to improve internet and mobile services.
- $100 million to upgrade regional airport infrastructure.
- The government will also roll out a series of “Regional Deals”, which focus on developing specific areas. There are three of them to begin with, covering the Tennant Creek region in the NT, the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area in Queensland, and Albury Wodonga on the border of NSW and Victoria.
- $1 billion is being added to the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, which invests in rural roads across Australia and upgrades key freight routes to connect the agriculture and resource sectors to urban markets.
- Two new visa classes be introduced to encourage skilled workers to settle in regional areas.
- The government will address climate change and meet its 2030 carbon emissions target through a $3.5 billion package delivered over the next 15 years. It will include:
- $2 billion for the Climate Solutions Fund;
- $1.38 billion in equity to support the delivery of Snowy 2.0;
- $56 million for the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria; and
- $400,000 to develop a National Electric Vehicle Strategy.
- Threatened species protection will get $100 million over four years with the establishment of an Environment Restoration Fund. The fund will provide grants for on-ground restoration and protection projects focusing on threatened and migratory species, their habitats, coasts and waterways, recycling and waste reduction as well as other environmental issues.
- About $229.9 million over seven years will be spent to provide better mental health services including $114.5 million from 2020/21 to trial eight mental health centres focusing on specialised support for adults (particularly after hours), improving access to mental health support for expectant and new parents and improving data on self-harm and suicide.
- About $6.1 million will be provided for the establishment of Grace’s Place, a residential trauma recovery centre for children, and $5 million for a purpose-built at Repatriation General Hospital, Adelaide to help people with eating disorders.
- While another $263.3 will be provided from 2018/19 to improve access to youth mental health services.
- A further $200m has been allocated to extend the existing Building Better Regions Fund, which sources private and public funding for local development projects, into a fourth round.
- The government is funding $77.2m over 23 years from 2019-20 to improve radar coverage in regional Queensland and northern NSW.
- There will be $4.2m spent over four years from 2019-20 to maintain a National Drought Map. The map is an online resource which brings together information on drought conditions and support measures available across multiple agencies and tiers of government.
- National leadership for agricultural innovation will get a $2.9m boost over three years, starting in 2019-20, to establish an advisory panel to do a range of tasks including cross-commodity research and development and supporting long-term jobs in the agricultural sector.
- The income threshold for paying the Medicare levy will be reduced.
- About $328 million will be spent over four years to reduce domestic and family violence against women and children.
- $2 billion will be spent to build Australia’s fastest train between Geelong and Melbourne. While the government will co-fund business cases for five other potential high speed rail projects from Sydney to Wollongong, Sydney to Parkes, Melbourne to Albury Wodonga, Melbourne to Traralgon, and Brisbane to the Gold Coast.
- $500 million to provide better parking facilities at train stations.
- Quadrupling of the Urban Congestion Fund and billions of dollars to upgrade roads across the nation.
- Veterans, carers, single parents, aged pensioners and people receiving the disability support pension will receive a one-off Energy Assistance Payment to help with their next energy bill.
- Singles will receive $75 and eligible couples $125 paid before the end of the current financial year.
- Cancer services to get $70.8 million over the next seven years including for the establishment of cancer treatment centres in regional Australia for radiation therapy.
- Out-of-pocket costs for scans such as ultrasounds and x-rays will be reduced.
- The costs of some medications will be reduced under the PBS.
- There will be funding for 80,000 new apprenticeships in areas with skills shortages.
- Apprentice incentive payments doubled to $8000, apprentices to receive $2000.
For more information on the 2019-20 Federal Budget, or specific points please www.budget.gov.au.