Budget 2017 had several areas of interest for rural, in particular for the farming sector, where there is additional funding for the Ministry of Primary Industries on biosecurity, irrigation, and trade facilitation.
The Budget’s focus on spending on public services, social investment, and infrastructure will also benefit rural people. Changes to tax brackets, Working for Families and Accommodation Supplements targeted at lower and middle income families is also important.
A $4.0 billion infrastructure package includes $812 million capital investment to reinstate the earthquake damaged sections of State Highway 1 from Picton to Christchurch. $548 million is also being invested in the rail network.
Roading infrastructure spending has been given a boost with items such as the Huntly and Hamilton sections of the Waikato Expressway; the Whirokino trestle bridge replacement in Manawatu-Whanganui; the Mt Messenger-Awakino Gorge corridor in Taranaki; and the Motu Bridge replacement in Gisborne.
Tourism infrastructure will receive $44.6 million in operations funding and $41 million in capital to ease pressure on Department of Conservation land and facilities, with an additional $9.7 million capital allocation beyond the four-year period.
Primary industries benefit from an increase of $30.5 million of operating funding to upgrade and modernise the fisheries management system. Setting aside $100 million of under-utilised Crown land to build houses, means less horticultural land is likely to be used for housing.
An additional $59.2 million over four years has been set aside to ensure all road ambulance call outs are double crewed by 2021, by creating 375 new emergency medical and paramedic roles across the country. This will directly benefit a number of rural districts in New Zealand.
Budget 2017 also allocated additional grant funding of $26.7 million over the next three years, plus a capital boost of $63 million towards irrigation projects.
Click here to download RWNZ’s full Budget 2017 report written by Craig Matthews, freelance writer and editor.