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The Northern Territory’s peak industry body has described the 2019/20 Northern Territory Government Budget as a mixed bag for primary producers with few surprises and one clear funding change which requires further discussion.
The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association Chief Executive Officer, Ashley Manicaros, said the continued joint Federal and Northern Territory Government funding commitments for beef roads was welcomed, however reductions in livestock industries development ($226,000 – Budget Paper 3, page 255) and agribusiness development ($79,000 – Budget Paper 3, Page 255) were a concern. A further $1.831 million (Budget Paper 3, page 255) has also been flagged for reduction from plant-based industries. Meanwhile, the NT Government has announced $1.2 million to enhance animal welfare through a “robust compliance program.”
“Our industry supports transparency when it comes to animal welfare and we actually want to see the Federal Government inject $40 million in to Northern Australia for biosecurity and animal welfare compliance, but we question why such expenditure is to be at the expense of funding that will grow the economic output of agriculture industries – it makes no sense,” Mr Manicaros said. “If they are going to bolster this area then we would like to see them increase the number of NT Government vets - currently there are only three.”
"On roads we welcome the co‑funded projects progressing in 2019‑20", he said. “We continue to push for the acceleration of road expenditure to offset the damage which is expected to be caused by the increase in onshore gas activity,” he said. “We would encourage the NT Government to work with us on knocking on the doors of whoever forms Government after May 18.”
The road funding includes:
• $60.2 million to continue to improve various sections of the Plenty Highway and Tjukaruru Road;
• $29 million for the Buntine Highway, to continue strengthening and widening works and extending the seal towards the Western Australia border;
• $24.2 million to continue upgrades to Tablelands Highway and Barkly Stock Route under the Beef Roads Program; and
• $16.2 million to continue to upgrade and seal priority sections of the Central Arnhem Road.
The NT Government has also confirmed the $17.9 million weather radar station for Tennant Creek will proceed as per the Federal Coalition’s commitment in their Budget, announced last month.
Contact: NTCA office (08) 8981 5976