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Latham should burn rubber at Bathurst.

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DAFF04/167WTP - 20 June 2004

Latham should burn rubber at Bathurst

Country Labor will be confirmed as a joke if delegates don't run Labor Leader Mark Latham out of Bathurst today over his long-held anti-farmer policies and plans to axe a score of rural programs, Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said today.

"In his budget reply speech, Mr Latham effectively confirmed his plan to abolish BRS and cut the Budget for ABARE by 25% - two organisations dedicated to helping farmers plan for drought and become more sustainable," Mr Truss said.

"But Mr Latham went further and promised that if elected he would start out by 'cutting 13 Government programs' and seven Government agencies. His Agriculture spokesperson has since refused to rule out the cuts coming from rural programs.

Latham Labor hates Ethanol - will he cut $40 million ethanol program? Latham: "… the bad publicity and the lack of consumer confidence in ethanol should be a lesson to people like the Member for Riverina. It just does not work." (17/09/03 Hansard)

Latham Labor wants to scrap FarmBis training - $66.7 million in savings? Latham: "Just last week I uncovered another nice little earner called FarmBis. The Federal Government is spending $38 million on management training for farmers and their families. No other part of the workforce receives assistance of this kind." (The Daily Telegraph 19 February 2001)

Latham Labor wants to clawback eight rural and regional assistance measures Latham: "Over the years [the farm sector] has secured from government a long list of tax concessions and handouts: zonal tax rebates; write-offs for water conservation and landcare expenses; drought investment allowances; tax concessions for telephones and electricity lines; income tax averaging; a Diesel Fuel Rebate; education allowances; and exemptions from capital gains tax. If agriculture in this country is so efficient, then why does it need such a high level of business welfare?" (The Daily Telegraph 19 February 2001)

"Country people recovering from drought know low interest rates and a sound economy are essential to help them get back on their feet - the alternative on show at Bathurst today is son-of-Whitlam policy on the run and an ingrained and unjustified dislike for rural and regional Australia," Mr Truss said.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433