The Federal Government’s long-term commitment to restoring the $5 billion Queensland cattle industry and its Northern communities devastated by record floods has been welcomed by AgForce, with the proviso that it must include significant involvement from local graziers and supporting businesses to be successful.
The total amount of the Federal Government’s package is estimated to be worth up to $2 billion, while red tape and tax relief is also being made available to flood-affected graziers with the Australian Taxation Office confirming the agency will defer due date tax payments and lodgements, remit interest and penalty charges on tax debts and fast track income tax and GST refunds.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the measures proposed by the Prime Minister and the establishment of a dedicated agency to lead the recovery are a good next step following the horrific loss of hundreds of thousands of cattle, as well as sheep, horses and farming infrastructure.
“We welcome the latest developments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He witnessed the heartbreaking loss of animals and the destruction affecting so many hard-working, dedicated farming families first hand,” Mr Guerin said.
“The recovery from such a heartbreaking event will be a multi-year process. There is so much that needs to be done, which is why as an organisation we need to stay on top of this.
“AgForce led strongly in the immediate response to this unprecedented disaster and we will continue to be involved in the process on behalf of our members, and for all of the affected farming industry in Queensland.
Mr Guerin said the Prime Minister’s commitment to helping North Queensland rebuild ‘farm by farm, station by station’ was particularly pleasing.
“The Prime Minister understands repairing the industry will take many years and require a range of financial, structural, environmental and social initiatives.
“We’re also very pleased that today’s (March 1 2019) announcement includes an expansion of telehealth services for people in flood-affected areas.
Mr Guerin added that AgForce supports the appointment of Mr Shane Stone QC as the Chair of the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency, and the person to coordinate the rebuild.
“We look forward to being actively involved in supporting the agency in its work, and Mr Stone as its Chair, in the years to come so that everyone affected can get back on their feet and the industry can thrive again.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also announced that the State Government has committed $11 million to an aid package to help farmers and communities affected by the North West Floods. The State measures are the result of a summit of mayors from seven affected shires plus representatives including AgForce.