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Costello true to his word on the value of agriculture



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T H E H O N . N E I L O ’ K E E F E M H R

F e d e r a l M e m b e r f o r B u r k e

S h a d o w M i n i s t e r f o r P r i m a r y I n d u s t r i e s

P A R L I A M E N T o f A U S T R A L I A

Costello true to his word on the value of agriculture

The Federal Treasurer has again relegated the Nationals to the Έ Team’ and revealed his continuing lack of interest in the agricultural sector in his budget, the Federal Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Neil O’Keefe, said.

“In September last year, Peter Costello was quick to play down the effect of a downturn in - » agriculture on the economy. His words were ‘there's no need to get too pessimistic...farm product is not a huge part o f GDP ’.

“He has reinforced this view in the Budget tonight as the plight of beef, pork and other struggling primary producers have been totally disregarded.

Mr O’Keefe described the $2.5 billion surplus as a “surplus gouged out of the economy by mass sackings of the public sector and the loss of tens of thousands of rural jobs.

“Mr Costello highlighted the Government’s ‘Agriculture Advancing Australia’ package in his budget address as a significant farm support program. This package was announced last September and it is now very clear to everyone that there has been very little extra money or anything new in the programs other than a rebadging of programs Labor had in place.”

Mr O’Keefe said that figures for the meat industry graphically illustrate the problem.

“The Treasurer knows we have meat works closed in regional and rural areas and almost 4000 meat workers stood down, or sacked without their entitlements, but there is still no plan for the industry. These vital country jobs are not even on the agenda.

Mr O’Keefe also called the decision to scrap the Australian Made Campaign as “the silliestVudget decision made in the 1996 budget and the farm sector, in particular citrus and pork, are badly missing the marketing support of this program.”

“The rebates for drought and salinity measures are welcome but the criteria would result in little money being spent in these areas.

“These rebates will turn out to be a hoax on the scale of the handover of the family farm from elderly to young - the fine print meant very few, if any, can qualify, resulting in little cost to the budget.

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“At a time when Australia badly needs a full scale national water and sali strategy, the Treasurer has announced a tax rebate to encourage these wor it is only available to those whose incomes are so low that they probably l money to spend on improvements.

Contact: Pat Giles - 02 6277 4687 or 0418 509 649 13th May 1998

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