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Tehan delivers for regional higher education and research

Tehan delivers for regional higher education and research

Media Release 19 June 2020

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) congratulates the Minister for Education, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, on delivering a higher education reform package which will help fuel regional economic growth and jobs, and address the gap in educational outcomes between regional, rural and remote Australia and capital cities.

The Chair of RUN, Professor Helen Bartlett, said that the Minister’s announcement would drive national resilience and cohesion, and action priorities identified by the network from the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (Napthine Review).

“Addressing educational equity across the nation is in Australia’s interest as a whole.
We are delighted by the particular focus in the package to assist more students from RRR Australia to attend and succeed at university – particularly the new Tertiary Access Payment of $5,000, and the new $500 million fund per year to universities for programs to support Indigenous, regional and low SES students. Guaranteed bachelor-level Commonwealth supported places for Indigenous students are particularly welcome” Professor Bartlett said.

“Lowering the cost of the student contribution for courses such as nursing, allied health, teaching, agriculture, engineering, IT and maths, should encourage greater uptake by regional students in these areas. It is estimated that there should be more places in the regions. More graduates from our universities will produce more graduates to work in regional Australia in areas of skills need.

“The National Priorities and Industry Linkage fund will help our students engage with regional STEM industries, including via internships and placements, boost employment, and reward research partnerships with industry.

“We enthusiastically welcome the new $48.8 million research grants program to fund regional universities to partner with industry and other universities to boost research capacity. The program will further build research in regional Australia in areas of importance to regional industry and communities. Collaborative research priorities for RUN are: food and crops for the future; health and wellbeing in regional, rural and remote Australia; and new industries. We are currently developing proposals to advance our research in these areas.

“Addressing educational inequality in regional Australia will take years. A Regional, Rural and Remote Education Commissioner will be a champion for regional education and an advocate for a coherent policy response across governments and portfolios in the medium-term to make a lasting difference. The Commissioner will oversee the implementation and monitoring of the government’s RRR Education strategy” Professor Bartlett said.

“RUN is looking forward to working with the Minister and department on the details of the
funding model and continuing discussions on the need to recognise the role of regional
universities in regional development”.

Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

Media Release 17 June 2020

Biosecurity Amendment (Traveller Declarations and Other Measures) Bill 2020 introduced into the House of Representatives.

  • Bill enables higher value infringement notices to be issued for goods that have not been declared on an incoming passenger card and pose a high biosecurity risk.
  • Director of Biosecurity will determine which goods are subject to a higher infringement notice amount.

An amendment to the Biosecurity Act 2015 to strengthen biosecurity penalties was introduced into the House of Representatives today.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the Biosecurity Amendment (Traveller Declarations and Other Measures) Bill 2020 is about protecting Australia.

“Australia produces the best agricultural products in the world, but we need to be vigilant to protect Australia from an ever-increasing number of pests and diseases that threaten our country and way of life,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Our biosecurity system safeguards our environment, animal, plant and human health from exotic pests and diseases. It also underpins the productivity and sustainability of our agricultural industries.

“Pests such as brown marmorated stink bug have the potential to decimate our crops and do untold damage to our natural environment, and pose a continual threat.

“Diseases such as African swine fever, would be devastating for our $1.2 billion pork industry, as well as threaten our trade, environment and economy if there were an outbreak in Australia.

“That is why the Australian Government continues to invest millions of dollars into preventing them from entering Australia but we need everyone to do their bit when they travel to our country.

“The Bill enables infringement notices with a higher value to be issued for goods that have not been declared on an incoming passenger card and pose a high biosecurity risk.

“Under the new legislation the Director of Biosecurity will determine which goods pose a high biosecurity risk and can therefore be subject to a higher infringement notice amount than currently applies. Instead of the two penalty units ($420) currently available at the airport, infringement notices may be issued for up to 12 penalty units ($2520). The value of a penalty unit will be indexed on 1 July 2020 ($222 instead of $210).

“This is a response to travellers whether they be Australian citizens, residents or international visitors continuing to enter Australia with high biosecurity risk items and not declaring them.

“By being aware of the risk items, passengers and air crew can help Australia maintain its global reputation for producing high quality food and protect our unique environment.

“We need everyone to get the message, if in doubt just declare it and if you don’t declare it, you will be caught and issued with an infringement notice. “

“This government is serious about biosecurity and this legislation provides us with another tool to manage non-compliance. It builds on changes introduced in 2019 that allow visitors to have their visas cancelled and be refused to be entry into Australia for a serious breach of our biosecurity law.

The new legislation is expected to commence on 1 January 2021.

Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement negotiations commence

Media Release 17 June 2020

The Australian Government has launched Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) for a comprehensive, ambitious and mutually beneficial bilateral agreement.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said both Governments are committed to progressing the FTA, and improved market access for agricultural products will be at the forefront of negotiations.

“An FTA with the UK will take Australia and UK’s already strong economic partnership to the next level,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This is great news for Australian farmers and Australia’s agricultural sector.

“Australian farmers produce to the highest environmental and animal welfare standards and are rewarded all over the world for their high-quality produce. The UK is a market with whom we can share products, innovation, and services in agriculture.

“The UK and Australia recognise the importance of open markets and the benefits of global trade and investment, including to our agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

“The Australia and the UK agri-food industry are closely and historically linked through investment.

“Concluding a high-quality FTA will also assist in the economic recovery of both countries in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Australian Government will stand with our farmers and continue to work to find new and expand existing markets to give them a competitive edge.”

Fast facts:

  • Since the UK referendum in 2016, we have been working to protect and promote our interests with the UK and EU.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) has formally left the European Union (EU) and entered into a transition period until 31 December 2020
    o During the transition period, the UK can launch, conclude and ratify free trade agreements, including with Australia with implementation possible only when the transition period ends.
  • Two-way agricultural trade between Australia and the UK in 2019 totalled around $1.5b, with Australia exporting $638m in agricultural goods to the UK.
    o Australia’s key export commodities were wine ($397m), sheep meat ($66m) and beef ($55m).
    o Key agricultural imports from the UK (totalling $891.5m) were spirits ($311m), baked goods ($102m) and animal feed ($102m).
Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

Reminder Nth Qld flood farmer AgRebuild loans close soon

Media Release 19 June 2020

  • Reminder that applications for North Queensland flood disaster recovery loan AgRebuild close 30 June 2020.
  • The loan allows amounts up to $5 million to be borrowed over 10 years to help flood-affected Queensland primary producers restock, replant and recover.
    Primary producers directly impacted by the flooding caused by the North and Far Northern Queensland Monsoon Trough from 25 January to 14 February 2019 can apply.

Graziers and farmers affected by the 2019 North and Far North Queensland floods are reminded that they have until the end of June to apply for a Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) AgRebuild loan.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud encouraged farmers who want to apply to get their application in.

“This catastrophic event happened about 18 months ago and I know that many primary producers have spent their time since either repairing fences, roads, replanting or restocking,” Minister Littleproud said.

From the time they were established, the RIC had approved 688 loans with a total value of $753 million as at 31st May 2020.

“The North Queensland flood AgRebuild loan allows amounts up to $5 million to be borrowed over 10 years.

“The first two years are interest free, the next three years interest only with the final five years requiring principal and interest repayments.

“This is a great opportunity to access cheap money to help graziers and farmers and their businesses recover faster while also building resilience by building back better.

“I encourage graziers and farmers to get their applications in to benefit from the affordable loan terms to support flood recovery.”

To be eligible the farm business must have been directly impacted by the flooding caused by the North and Far Northern Queensland Monsoon Trough from 25 January to 14 February 2019.

For more on the AgRebuild loan (North Qld flood) visit https://www.ric.gov.au/agrebuild and submit an application before the closing date of 30 June 2020.

Fast Facts:

  • The Regional Investment Corporation is a Government-backed specialist finance provider for farmers and farm-related small businesses.
  • Since it was established and as at 31 May 2020, the RIC had approved 688 loans valued at over $753 million.
  • Farmers in these local government areas are eligible for the North Qld Flood AgRebuild loan include Burdekin, Burke, Carpentaria, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Croydon, Douglas, Etheridge, Flinders, Hinchinbrook, McKinlay, Richmond, Townsville, Whitsunday, Winton.
  • Farmers not located in one of the above LGAs but that have a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Individual Disaster Stricken Property (IDSP) Notice may still be eligible.
Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

Agricultural narcotic exports to benefit from improved market access

Media Release 17 June 2020

  • The Australian Government has delivered improved access to global markets for agricultural narcotic exports for medicinal cannabis and hemp industries.
  • The Export Control Amendment (Certificate of Narcotics Exports) Bill 2020 will allow certification for legitimate export of narcotic goods.
  • The bill will support emerging agricultural exporters to gain access to export markets and provide certification to pursue lucrative export opportunities.

The Australia Government has delivered improved access to global markets for agricultural narcotic exports for medicinal cannabis and hemp industries through the Export Control Amendment (Certificate of Narcotics Exports) Bill 2020.

Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said the bill will support emerging agricultural exporters to gain access to international markets and provide certification to pursue lucrative export opportunities.

“We want to see Australia’s agricultural sector continue to grow towards $100 billion in exports by 2030.

“The bill broadens current legislation that certifies agricultural exports to allow for certification of legitimate exports of narcotic products.

“In the past year we have seen producers wanting to export to markets that need Australian Government certification – this Bill means exporters can now access those markets and have the confidence to invest in this industry.

“The industry will be able to export markets in South-East Asia, China, Canada and the lucrative US market.

“The Australian Government is committed to assisting our agricultural producers and exporters to create and maintain new international export opportunities, while providing assurance to our trading partners through certification.

“This bill will enable agricultural industries to come out firing after the threat of COVID-19 has passed.”

Stronger penalties for travellers who don’t declare high risk biosecurity items

ANU in Biodiversity Stewardship Program for farmers

Media Release 12 June 2020

  • The Australian National University will use a $3.4 million grant to develop a monitoring, reporting and measuring framework for the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Pilot Program.
  • Payments for biodiversity projects could help farmers diversify their businesses and take advantage of new revenue streams.
  • The ANU will build robust and credible methods for measuring biodiversity that support this program.

The Coalition Government is delivering on its $34 million 2019 election commitment to establish an Agriculture Stewardship Package for farmers. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has now contracted the Australian National University to provide technical expertise to assist in delivering this program.

“This agreement with the ANU is another critical part of our efforts to incentivise adoption of improved on-farm biodiversity practices,” Minister Littleproud said.

“It is time farmers are rewarded for the benefits Australia receives from their work looking after the biodiversity on their land” Minister Littleproud said.

ANU Professor Phil Gibbons, who has been instrumental in the design of accounting systems and methods for similar schemes, including in NSW, said he was excited to be working on the project.

“ANU has the experience and expertise, and it’s great to contribute to a project that we hope will have great long-term benefits for farmers and biodiversity,” Professor Gibbons said.

“We’ll pull the best of existing knowledge and get to work on this right away.”

Under this pilot, the ANU will build robust measuring methods, incorporating three basic principles:

  • the scheme has to have integrity
  • farmers have to make money out of it
  • there needs to be clear, measurable biodiversity benefits for the farmer to be paid taxpayer dollars.

Using a pilot-based approach the ANU program will also allow landholders to be offered contracts with the Australian Government to recognise biodiversity. Projects such as maintaining or enhancing remnant forest, regeneration of gullies or waterways, or mixed species native plantings could be examples of projects.

Planting native shelterbelts brings plants and animals, slows down wind speed, reduces soil moisture loss, helps to retain top soil and provides shade and frost protection. It also provides a better production environment for livestock—cattle and sheep put on more meat when they have good shelter—and delivers essential habitat for native wildlife.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will establish a steering committee to provide oversight and direction for the Agriculture Stewardship Package.

It will link with the work already being delivered by the National Farmers’ Federation and Australian Farm Institute to deliver an Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme.

“A biodiversity certification scheme will give farmers motivation and reward for looking after nature on their properties.

“If shoppers are prepared to pay more for produce that carries the biodiversity stamp, or if it will help increase our market access, then let’s create a brand and reward farmers who do that. We will test this through the Pilot.

“I expect on ground trials under the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Pilot Program and the Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme Trial will commence next year,” Minister Littleproud said.

Fast Facts: