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2015 Federal Budget Summary 


The Abbott Government's second Budget was last night unveiled by Federal Treasurer the Hon. Joe Hockey MP. Some key points of relevance to the vegetable industry and agriculture are identified in the summary below.


Drought Assistance - Immediate
The Government will provide $271.8 million over four years to extend current drought initiatives, including;
- $250.0 million in concessional loan funding to continue the drought‑specific concessional loan schemes in 2015‑16.
- $20.0 million in 2015‑16 to extend the access to social and mental health services in communities affected by drought.
- $1.8 million in 2015‑16 for an additional 10 counsellors to assist farmers through the Rural Financial Counselling Service.


Drought Assistance - Infrastructure and Pest Management
The Government will provide $60.8 million over four years as part of a package of measures to support drought‑affected local communities, including;

- $25.8 million over four years from 1 July 2015 to assist farm businesses to manage the impacts of pest animals in drought‑affected areas.
- $35.0 million over four years for a local council grants programme for infrastructure projects in drought‑affected areas.

Quarantine and Border Security
The Government will provide $550.2 million over four years from 2015‑16 to maintain funding for quarantine and border protection activities on an ongoing basis.

Trade
The Government will provide $24.6 million over two years from 2015‑16 to promote business understanding of the recently concluded Free Trade Agreements in North Asia, and to assist businesses to access and maximise benefits under these agreements. Advocacy and outreach activities will take place in both Australia and in target offshore markets.

Visas - 457
The Government will provide $3.7 million over four years to implement recommendations from the Independent Review into the Integrity of the Temporary Work (skilled) Visa (subclass 457) programme. This measure will provide funding for the simplification and streamlining of Visa processing for low risk 457 sponsors, and the investigation of 457 sponsors to determine whether they are complying with their sponsorship obligations.

Visas - 417
The Government will change the tax residency rules from 1 July 2016 to remove the Tax Free Threshold for Working Holiday Visa holders, meaning they will now be taxed from their first dollar of income.

Primary Producers - Accelerated Depreciation
The Government will allow all primary producers to immediately deduct capital expenditure on fencing and water facilities such as dams, tanks, bores, irrigation channels, pumps, water towers and windmills. This measure is estimated to cost $70.0 million over the forward estimates period.

Small Business - Accelerated Depreciation
The Government will significantly expand accelerated depreciation for small businesses by allowing small businesses with aggregate annual turnover of less than $2 million to immediately deduct assets they start to use or install ready for use, provided the asset costs less than $20,000.

Small Business - Income Tax
The Government will deliver a tax cut to all small businesses through a 1.5 percentage point tax cut for small companies and a five per cent tax discount on income from unincorporated small business activity. These tax cuts will be available from the 2015‑16 income year, and are estimated to have a cost to revenue of $3.3 billion over the forward estimates period.

The Government will reduce the company tax rate to 28.5 per cent for companies with aggregated annual turnover less than $2 million. Companies with an aggregated annual turnover of $2 million or above will continue to be subject to the current 30 per cent rate on all their taxable income.

Foreign Investment - Jobs
The Government will provide $30.0 million over four years to attract major job creating investment in each of the Government's five investment priority areas: infrastructure; tourism; resources and energy; agribusiness and food; and advanced manufacturing, services and technology.

Foreign Investment - Framework
The Government will strengthen Australia's foreign investment framework through improved compliance and enforcement, stricter penalties, the introduction of application fees, and more scrutiny and greater transparency for agricultural investment.

The introduction of application fees on all real estate, business and agricultural foreign investment proposals from 1 December 2015 is estimated to raise $735.0 million in revenue over the forward estimates period.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service
The Government will provide additional funding of $20.0 million over two years from 2015‑16 to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service to deliver emergency and primary health care services to people in rural and remote communities of Australia.


Developing Northern Australia
The Government will provide $101.3 million over four years from 2015‑16 to improve cattle supply chains in the north, with a particular focus on road infrastructure.
The Government will provide $3.7 million over four years from 2015‑16 to develop a new infrastructure projects pipeline which will be informed by the priorities identified in Infrastructure Australia's Northern Australia Infrastructure Audit. 
The Government will establish a
$5 billion concessional loan facility, with the objective of increasing private sector investment in infrastructure in northern Australia. 

The full budget papers can be found at http://www.budget.gov.au
 

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