The Victorian Nationals say the government has slashed $32million from last week’s agriculture budget, but the agriculture minister denies this is the case.
‘‘Labor has cut $32million from the agriculture spend in the 2017-18 state budget, despite pushing up taxes by 22 per cent,’’ Nationals leader Peter Walsh said.
‘‘No amount of Labor spin can hide this reduction, and fears of agriculture being swallowed up within the super department are ringing true.’’
Mr Walsh produced a line item from the budget which shows a reduction in budgeted expenditure from $433million to $401million between last year and this year.
But Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the 2016-17 total output cost for agriculture included conversion of capital funding to output for the Agriculture, Infrastructure and Jobs Fund and prior year carryover, and in fact the target spend on agriculture was higher in this budget than it had been for 2016-17.
‘‘Once again, Mr Walsh is misleading Victorian farmers,’’ she said.
‘‘On Mr Walsh’s watch Victoria’s biosecurity budget was gutted and the much loved Rural Women’s Network was shut down.
‘‘The so-called cuts Mr Walsh refers to are wrong.’’
Mr Walsh said Premier Daniel Andrews and Ms Pulford were bragging about a surplus, but had failed to put any new funds into productivity-focused research and development programs.