Rural road infrastructure and drought and bushfire recovery have been the major spending themes to benefit primary production in today’s State Budget.

Primary Producers SA Chair Rob Kerin said while it was a budget with few surprises for agriculture, the funding allocations provided would help move the industry forward.

“Rural road infrastructure was the big winner with $908 million earmarked for spending in new rural transport infrastructure projects,” Mr Kerin said.

“This spend on roads is important and has been what the sector has been seeking in recent years due to the extensive backlog of maintenance. It is imperative to the success of primary production that we have a good road network that allows us to get goods to port competitively.

“While maintenance has not been what it should have in recent years, this money is a step in the right direction to getting us back on track to a much better road network.”

Road funding commitments included:

  • $269 million over three years, including $169m contributed from the Federal Government, for road maintenance in regions including for edges and safety features, such as rumble strips.
  • $52 million over three years for upgrades to the Stuart, Dukes, Spencer and Riddoch Highways
  • $135 million over three years for the Strezlecki Track to ensure it is sealed to the Queensland border. The total cost is $180 million with the remainder to be contributed from the private sector.

Funding for drought and bushfire recovery was well received earlier in 2020. This included $305 million in bushfire responses and $45 million over four years to replace government infrastructure on Kangaroo Island.

“Because of its delivery late into the year, a number of the budget commitments that assisted agriculture had already been announced and some of the money already spent,” Mr Kerin said.

“Overall it has been a difficult year for the South Australian economy with drought, bushfire and COVID-19 and the business stimulus provided to primary production across a range of measures has been welcomed.

“While this Budget does include a $2.59 billion deficit and this would normally be a huge worry, we understand this is part of a calculated strategy to get the SA economy back on track from the pandemic – and primary producers will certainly play their part.”