The Labor government’s Budget will introduce a new food tax on Australian families, right in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
Federal Nationals leader David Littleproud said the new tax on farmers to pay for the biosecurity risk of international importers was senseless and would be passed onto consumers, which meant even higher grocery bills for all Australians.
“It is unfathomable the Labor Government would ask farmers to pay for the biosecurity costs of importers from other countries,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The Coalition proposed a cost recovery model that importers would pay commensurate to the risk provided, rather than farmers, and the model was ready for implementation before the end of last year.”
The Albanese government is also increasing the road user charge on truckies by six per cent, compounding each year, that will add to grocery bills for families, because transport companies can’t absorb that cost.
Regional Australia will also bear the costs to further cuts to regional infrastructure.
Labor has abandoned water security projects worth $872.5 million, including the Dungowan Dam and Emu Swamp Dam, plus again delayed funding for the Wyangala Dam Wall raising and Hughenden Irrigation Scheme.
On top of kicking water projects into the long grass, Labor has put a razor gang to the $120 billion infrastructure pipeline, putting all regional programs in doubt.
“Not only is the Albanese government making us pay for their spending, they are also taking away our future by ripping away the tools we need to produce more and get it on your table cheaper.”
Labor will also force local communities to wait two years to access regional grant programs, with funding that was available in 2022 under the Coalition now delayed until well into 2024.
“Labor has pushed back critical funding needed for regional communities, while only targeting projects worth more than $1 million. It means smaller projects like sports ovals, playgrounds and libraries will be ineligible for funding in most communities.
“Ripping up or delaying investments in roads, rail, bridges, dams and community facilities, while increasing costs on heavy vehicles and taking away regional grants programs, is not how we build a more prosperous, stronger and sustainable Australia.”
Chronic shortages in access to health services
Health access in the regions has been neglected through Labor’s failure to invest in bespoke initiatives to deal with shortages in medical professionals.
“Labor’s changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), allowing 60-day dispensing instead of 30, also risks unintended consequences, such as rural medicine supply shortages and country pharmacists being forced to shut down.”
Regional areas struggle to find accessible GPs, but Labor is committing just $4.5 million over five years to train rural GPs through its Single Employer Model trials.
“Labor is throwing crumbs at increasing access to GPs for rural families.”
A worsening childcare crisis
Labor’s policies have failed to introduce one single new childcare place across the country.
Mr Littleproud said while affordability was impacting families, regional, rural and remote Australia also needed availability.
“Regional mums and dads have not been treated fairly. There is no improvement in regional childcare. Labor has failed to create one new childcare place, leaving regional, rural and remote mums and dads no better off. Labor’s failure to help regional parents has left them behind.”