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Fuel costs, interest payments, low dollar, rob farmers of export gains.

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Fuel Costs, Interest Payments, Low Dollar, Rob Farmers Of Export Gains Peter Cook - Shadow Minister for Trade

Media Statement - 21 December 2000

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The Howard Government's economic mismanagement and deceit on fuel prices was hammering Australia's rural producers even as they successfully competed in the global market, Shadow Minister for Trade, Senator Peter Cook, said today.

Senator Cook was commenting on this week's report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), which predicted farm incomes would fall by 7% this financial year.

ABARE found that despite stronger exports, production costs were rising faster than incomes. Overall farm costs were predicted to jump by 5% this year, on the back of a 10% rise in fuel costs and a 13% hike in interest payments.

The Government, led by National Party Trade Minister Mark Vaile, has been happy to bask in the success of Australian rural exporters. But the ABARE report shows that even with exports recovering strongly, farm incomes are falling because the Government was failing the Treasurer's own test of economic management , and refusing to provide rural areas with promised relief from GST-driven high fuel prices.

ABARE's sobering assessment suggests that Australian rural producers really can't win under the Howard Government. Having worked through a period of low commodity prices and depressed international demand, farmers are exporting more. But with their costs now blowing out, they find the Government is only interested in telling them that they've never had it so good.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.