CANBERRA, AAP – Farmers want more than $11 billion invested in rural Australia and have compiled a list of five priority areas they say need to be addressed for agriculture to thrive.
The list of demands will be outlined by the National Farmers Federation at their two-day national conference starting in Canberra on Tuesday.
Among the speakers are Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor Leader Anthony Albanese.
“What we’ll be saying to government is back agriculture, back farmers, get behind an industry that’s actually been strong in the face of adversity, and… those five things are just the start,” NFF ‘s chief executive Tony Mahar told AAP.
He says addressing the priority areas will be key to securing rural votes at the upcoming election, and the NFF has written to all of the major political parties.
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On top of the wish list is a plan to pour more than $4 billion into 20 regional development precincts across Australia.
“We’re asking them … to invest in those regions to make sure they can have the infrastructure and facilities to make those precincts liveable centres.”
Farmers also want $5 billion for a rural telecommunications fund to improve connectivity for remote Australians.
“You talk to any farmer, any rural or regional person in the community and they continue to say that connectivity and telecommunication isn’t where it needs to be.”
Mr Morrison will tell the conference in a pre-recorded speech the government has since 2013 pumped $100 billion into regional Australia and was committed to doing more.
He said $21 billion was set aside for rural and regional areas in last week’s federal budget.
Natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic had pushed the country to its very limits.
“Yet through it all, we have reaffirmed one simple truth – Australia’s strength, our resilience,” Mr Morrison will say.
The value of farm production is heading towards $81 billion this year, which meant rural industry was foundational to the government’s economic plan.
“(My government) knows that Australia is way more than our eight capital cities … the wealth of our nation resides in the regions,” Mr Morrison says.
“We look forward to a great period of prosperity in our regions.”