Member for Mallee Anne Webster says a re-elected Liberal and Nationals Government would end Labor’s new tax on farmers.
In Tuesday night’s Federal Budget Labor announced a $153 million biosecurity levy, which will force farmers to pay for the biosecurity risk of international importers Australian.
This was done without consultation with the industry and would have resulted in farmers being forced to increase costs which would then be passed on to shoppers at the checkout through higher food prices.
“A future Coalition Government will stop Labor’s new tax in order to protect and support our farmers, while also helping to ease financial pressures on families,” Dr Webster said.
“We were previously in the process of delivering an importer container levy which would mean importers of foreign products would pay for the biosecurity risk they pose – not Australian farmers.
“It just makes sense that those importing into Australia be the ones to pay for the biosecurity risk of the products they sell here.”
Labor’s tax on farmers was another hit to the regions, with the Federal Government also axing the Stronger Country Communities program, a popular open grant application funding stream.
“Stronger Country Communities was a vital source of funding for many small communities, it helped small clubs and organisations in Mallee and around Regional Australia make their own applications for projects that really mattered to them,” Dr Webster said.
The budget also did not include further rounds of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program beyond the funding already announced.
‘The loss of these two grant schemes is a slap in the face to the self determination of regional towns. This will be hugely disappointing to Councils who had the freedom to prioritise road and infrastructure that their communities need.
As Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health Dr Webster said a Coalition pledge of $5 million to review women-specific health items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and corresponding treatments on the PBS was a good move for women’s health outcomes.
“I am also pleased to say we reaffirm our commitment to invest $4 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia after they were forgotten by this Labor Government,” Dr Webster said.
A Coalition Government will also restore the number of Medicare-subsidised psychological sessions to 20.
“This was a measure the Coalition brought in during the COVID-19 pandemic, doubling the sessions from 10 to 20, that Labor slashed at the beginning of this year,” Dr Webster said.
“I said at the time (that Labor halved the sessions back to 10) serious mental health issues are often at their highest a few years after a crisis, pandemic or natural disaster, which is why vulnerable Australians need to have continued access to the psychology sessions they need.
“Given the COVID-19 pandemic and then the more recent floods in Mallee this is a measure that would be of incredible benefit to those doing it tough mentally – taking the stress out of paying for the help they need.”