Regional Western Australia

Good for business

WA’s regions have not been forgotten in this year’s Federal Budget but the controversial backpacker tax remains.

Here are the key points:

  • $7.1 million will be available over four years to fund additional rural financial counsellors in drought affected areas who will provide free financial advice to farmers.
  • The Government will establish a $2 billion Water Infrastructure Loan Facility to assist new investment in dams and pipelines across Australia. Loans of up to 50 per cent of the project cost will be available for states and territories, to be repaid over 15 years (interest-only for the first five years) to establish water infrastructure projects.
  • As announced earlier this year, the $13.8 million Farm Cooperatives and Collaboration Pilot Programme to help farmers develop their trade capabilities.
  • The Rural and Regional Training Infrastructure Grants Program will be redesigned and renamed the Rural General Practice Grants Program, to provide a broader range of infrastructure grants to increase opportunities to teach and train health practitioners in rural, regional and remote areas across Australia
  • The Government has made no move to reverse its plan to tax backpackers at 32.5 per cent for every dollar earned, from July 1 – despite fears from industry that the tax would adversely affect regional workforces that rely on backpackers.
  • Excise levies and customs charges on deer velvet and live deer will cease.
  • The National Landcare Program will receive an additional $22.6 million over three years to support activities under the Government’s plan for a cleaner environment.
  • The $1.2 billion White Paper on Developing Northern Australia includes a $100 million Beef Roads Programme to ensure that farmers can get their cattle to markets. There will also be a $75 million Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia that will identify opportunities for research that can benefit industries in northern Australia, including agriculture.
  • $50 million over four years will be allocated to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority to promote wine tourism within Australia and Australian wine overseas to benefit regional wine producing communities.
  • The wine equalisation tax rebate will be cut back over two years, from $500,000 to $290,000 which will apply from 1 July 2019 and the Government will tighten eligibility for the rebate.
  • Businesses with an annual turnover of up to $10 million will now be able to claim the write-off for purchases up to $20,000.
  • Rural research and development programs have escaped unscathed in 2016 after big cuts in the two previous budgets.