Abbott bullish on rural economy

12 Mar, 2015 12:49 PM
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Tony Abbott's visit to the Mount Gambier Saleyards. Photo: The Border Watch
I think there is quite a lot more confidence in country Australia today than there was
Tony Abbott's visit to the Mount Gambier Saleyards. Photo: The Border Watch

AFTER a whirlwind visit through country Australia in the past fortnight, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is upbeat about the rural economy.

Speaking in Horsham in country Victoria, Mr Abbott said better terms of trade for exporters due to the falling dollar, combined with other wins for agriculture such as the free trade agreements (FTAs) with crucial northern Asian markets, meant there was a mood of optimism in the bush.

“I think there is quite a lot more confidence in country Australia today than there was just a couple of years ago,” he said.

“I know there are some places which are still badly affected by drought, particularly northern New South Wales and western Queensland, but where the seasons are okay, I think rural Australia is pretty optimistic.”

He nominated recently negotiated FTAs with China, Korea and Japan as critical wins for the ag sector.

“Our beef, our lamb, our dairy, our seafood, our wines, are all going to get into places like China, Korea and Japan under much better circumstances in the future than in the recent past.”

Mr Abbott also said the financial climate was favourable for farmers.

“We’ve got low and stable interest rates, a much more competitive dollar, lower fuel prices as well as lower power prices: all of these things are helping to boost confidence in country Australia.”

He also said the government’s new agricultural foreign investment register and the lowering of the threshold for scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) would be a good thing for rural Australia.

“Foreign investment is a good thing, but it's got to be foreign investment that serves our national interest and not just the interests of the investor and that's why the government recently moved to lower the screening threshold for foreign investment in agricultural land.

“I think this is very important, not to stop foreign investment particularly, but to give people confidence that the foreign investment in our country is in our national interests, as well as in the national interests of overseas investors.

On the vexed topic of drought assistance policy, Mr Abbott said the government would wait until the findings of the current white paper on agriculture were released before further advancing drought policy ideas.

Mr Abbott was in Horsham, together with local Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, to announce a federal government grant of $1 million for the Wimmera Healthcare Group for a new cancer treatment facility to match funds raised by the local community.

State Member for Lowan Emma Kealy called for the State Labor government to also commit to the project.

Mr Abbott’s visit was the first time a sitting Prime Minister had visited Horsham since Malcolm Fraser was there in 1983.

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FarmOnline
Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Qlander
12/03/2015 2:04:29 PM

While I believe Abbott is by far the best of a seriously bad bunch. I'm not sure he knows what any economy is, let alone a rural one.
Archibald
12/03/2015 2:36:13 PM

Bad luck Abbotts promise about reduced red tape wasn't a core promise; nothing has changed and agriculture is still being regulated and controlled to the brink!
stockman
12/03/2015 4:43:00 PM

The labor mob didn't want to or were unable to get FTAs. Too busy looking after their union mates to be interested in food production.
Jock Munro
12/03/2015 6:13:30 PM

This is the bloke who voted away the wheat single desk with his fellow Liberals and the Rudd Labor government. Perhaps he could also explain why selling our farms to foreign state owned entities (China and the Middle east) is such a good idea.
broken_gate
15/03/2015 7:12:41 PM

Well thanks to Abbott and Co this small community lost its Wind Farm and sustainable future - pathetic message "coal is good for humanity" who would vote for that? Not a sign of anyone these days admitting they vote Conservative. What we didn't know was how well off we were with Labor, what do you recall from Howard? Three Wars, gun control (good idea actually), stinking GST and Tampa, Labor put a load of fairness again into our Nation building on icons such as their Medicare and free UNI, NDIS, Gonski, NBN, plain packaging.... Remember; "its the Liberal way to make YOU pay".

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