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News Release

COALITION TRANSPORT POLICY BUILDS ON AUSLINK

15 September 2004 NR 114/04

Farmers reliant on efficient domestic transport networks to get their products to markets or port will benefit under $464 million of additional new funding announced today as part of the Federal Coalition’s election policies, the National Farmers’ Federation said today.

NFF Vice President, Mr Charles Burke said maintaining and improving transport infrastructure was a key election priority for NFF and farmers stood to benefit from policy if the Coalition were re-elected.

“With 70 per cent of farm production exported, efficient transport networks are vital for farmers to get their products to markets and ports, and to help reduce farm input costs,” Mr Burke said.

“This money will help address some of the problems faced by farmers including access to ports and deteriorating rural transport infrastructure.

“We particularly welcome the extra $150 million for the Roads to Recovery program, including $30 million of funding for unincorporated areas in States and Territories.”

On behalf of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, NFF has made repeated representations on the declining state of unincorporated roads, particularly in the Northern Territory, and their exclusion from Federal funding programs. The Coalition’s recognition of this issue is welcome.

NFF has also identified a number of rural infrastructure projects of importance to our members, including the upgrading of the 15 NSW restricted lines in grain growing regions that are currently in danger of closure. While NFF is disappointed that these projects have not been explicitly funded in today's announcement, NFF will be working with an incoming

Government to seek opportunities to fund these projects.

“We are disappointed that the Coalition has not committed to bring forward the much needed fuel excise reforms foreshadowed in the Energy White Paper and associated changes to the Business Activity Statements,” Mr Burke said.

“NFF is pleased to see the renewed commitment to freeze the current excise on petrol and diesel for on-road use and we seek the same commitment from the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

“NFF has also requested that Australian farmers are properly represented on the National Transport Advisory Council or its equivalent, so that we can work with an incoming Government to help drive clarity and transparency in decision making, improved access to transport information and the development of a properly integrated national system.

“We are looking forward to seeing the ALP transport policy and in particular to seeing that the $383 million in extra savings taken from the Fuel Sales Grants Scheme to fund Labor’s tax policy is invested in transport infrastructure,” Mr Burke said.

Contact: Mairi Barton, General Manager Public Relations, (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250 email: mbarton@nff.org.au

Copyright © 2004. National Farmers' Federation. All rights reserved.