Payroll tax concession a sweetener for farmers

22 May, 2002 10:00 PM

THE State Government's decision not to entend payroll tax to contractors was a small sweetener in a mostly bitter budget for WA farmers.

Handing down the budget last week, State Treasurer Eric Ripper announced "employee-like" contractors would not be included under payroll tax.

After extensive industry consultation, it was agreed to drop the new tax, which was set to come into effect on July 1 this year.

But WA farm lobby groups believe other losses seriously offset any benefits of the decision.

PGA finance chairman Lyn Johnson said further cuts to agriculture and a hike on stamp duty threatened services and viability of recovering farm businesses.

For many, the budget was their "worst fears realised", according to Ms Johnson.

She said high vehicle demands of farm business made increases to standard vehicle stamp duty a serious cost burden and 8pc rises on insurance placed it almost beyond industry reach.

Ms Johnson said it was difficult to understand the Government's city-centric attitude when agriculture was just finding its feet.

"They are squeezing one the State's most productive industries," she said.

"But if you continue to squeeze out productive business you won't have a production industry to support social agendas in the future."

WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl said the shearing industry would receive the most benefit from the Government's decision to drop the tax but it was a minor issue.

He said cuts to the agriculture budget had sparked fears about skeleton weed and wild dog numbers, which had already become problematic as staff were cut.

WAFarmers were also disappointed multi-peril crop insurance had taken a back seat on the Government agenda, he said.


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