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Agriculture cuts could pay for election promises

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 25 Feb 2014

The Australian Greens said today it is likely that the Agriculture Department will be required to make a range of damaging cuts to pay for the government's election promises on biosecurity and R&D.

"The Government promised $100 million in funding for rural research and development during the election, but today the department was unable to tell me any detail on this commitment including whether this was new money or not," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

"The Department is already being forced to make a series of cuts from existing services and programs.

"The department seems to have had no indication from the Government about where the money for the election commitments will come from. Cuts to existing programs are likely to be made in order to pay for the government's R&D funding commitment. Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not help Australian agriculture.

"Front line border compliance jobs have already been lost, which makes a mockery of the government's other election promise to develop a $20 million biosecurity flying squad. Axing jobs in this fashion undermines efforts to protect agriculture from diseases, pests and invasive species.

"Farmers across Australia are under increasing pressure from threats like climate change, now is the time to invest new money in the knowledge and innovation we need to boost and sustain agricultural productivity long into the future. It is also crucial that we continue to protect the sector from serious biosecurity risks.

"The Greens strongly advocated for increased agricultural R&D during the last election, committing to a 7% increase Commonwealth investment- an extra $300 million over the forward estimates.

"Regional communities will need to be on high alert come budget time. I have deeply-held concerns that this is just the start of the cuts that will be needed for the government to pay for its election promises," Senator Siewert concluded.


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