Sow me the money: LLS cash tops farm budget wishlist

Derek Schoen said Tuesday’s budget was a chance for Liberals-Nationals leaders Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro to show rural communities hard evidence of its renewed commitment to the bush

Derek Schoen said Tuesday’s budget was a chance for Liberals-Nationals leaders Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro to show rural communities hard evidence of its renewed commitment to the bush

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THE state’s lead farm group says it will hold government to its promise to turbocharge the regions, also releasing a rural spending wishlist ahead of Tuesday’s state budget. 

NSW Farmers wants an extra $11 million for Local Land Services’ on-the-ground budget, as well as the continued $25m annual funding for LLS’s various programs, plus enough cash to help the ratepayer body deliver on the land clearing reforms passed late last year. 

Association president Derek Schoen said Tuesday’s budget was a chance for Liberals-Nationals leaders Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro to show rural communities hard evidence of its renewed commitment to the bush, “backed by real cash, real projects and real outcomes”.

“In order for the NSW Government to reach its target of 30 per cent growth in primary industries by 2020, investment in our agricultural industry is necessary,” Mr Schoen said.

“Agriculture is one of the key growth pillars of the NSW economy but in order to see our industry reach its full potential, the necessary investment must be made.”

NSW Farmers is calling for:

  • $11 million in new funding for Local Land Services (LLS) to be the ‘boots on the ground’ supporting farmers, as well as $25 million pa continued funding of LLS programs and adequate funding for the implementation of the new biodiversity reforms.
  • Faster roll out of the $6 billion expenditure on infrastructure that supports agricultural productivity.
  • $1.5 million for a study of distributed energy generation opportunities in regional NSW.
  • $5 million to develop a Q fever prevention strategy.
  • $1.3 million pa over four years to develop a cross-jurisdictional Fruit Fly Action Plan.
  • $1.1 million for improved pest animal management arrangements.

The Association’s pre-budget submission also outlined a need for:

  • $15 million funding to support Round 3 of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
  • $20 million for removal of stamp duty on the purchase of a first farm.
  • $20 million contribution for renewed commitment to innovative approaches to drought mitigation.
  • $3 million for retrofitting Dairy Underpasses.
  • $350,000 for studies into new water storages.
  • $800,000 over four years to maintain and improve the mob based system of sheep and goat identification.
  • $100,000 for Operation Neglected and Abandoned Orchards.

On Thursday Premier Berejiklian announced a new $1 billion Safe and Secure Water Program. 

Half of the funds, however, are for the 270-kilometre Murray to Broken Hill Pipeline announced a year ago, with the remainder set aside for projects that promise to improve reliability and quality of water. 

Labor says LLS must get its cash back

Opposition spokesperson for Primary Industries, Mick Veitch, remained skeptical LLS would be appropriately tooled up. 

He had a go at government on Thursday, accusing it of ripping more than $3.4 million from LLS over the last three years in the name of “efficiency dividends”.

“Questions asked in Parliament reveal that these efficiency dividends have increased by more than $1 million over the last two years under the watch of the current Minister.

“On top of ongoing budget cuts, this is just more pain for the LLS which is suffering job losses and an emerging sense of crisis within the agency - reflected in the Government’s own reports stating that more than 10 per cent of staff report being bullied and 22 per cent report witnessing bullying.

Mr Veitch said “funding lost through budget cutbacks and efficiency dividends over recent years must be restored immediately, especially as the LLS gears up to grapple additional responsibilities in biodiversity and biosecurity.”

“The sustainability and security of our environment, our primary producers and our regional communities are at stake here.

“The agency needs an urgent injection of cash just to replace the funding this Government has ripped from its budget over recent years.”

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