Budget: nothing new on the menu for National Food Policy

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th May 2011

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said it was “disappointing” that the Federal Government allocated no new funds for a National Food Plan in the 2011-12 Budget.

“The Budget contained no extra funding for developing a broad-base National Food Plan, which is vital for Australia’s largest manufacturing industry – food and grocery – to have a long-term, strategic focus to ensure Australia has a safe, nutritious and sustainable food supply into the future,” said the industry body.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said: “Industry is expecting a White Paper to be released in the next month or so and we hoped there would be some extra money for the implementation for the Food Plan over the next 12 months.”

Carnell said industry welcomed the Government’s commitment to fast-track skilled overseas migration to regional areas through a boost to the migration scheme of 6000 places to 16,000 in 2010-11.

“Increasing skilled migration is a very real problem for industry, especially gaining appropriate people all way through the food and grocery supply chain, particular tradespeople,” Ms Carnell said.

“The establishment of the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) and a $558 million investment over four years in regional training programs will also benefit Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers who employ 288,000 Australians, including half in rural and regional areas.”

Carnell said the Government’s significant investments in roads, ports and freight infrastructure across Australia would help industry including major highway upgrades.

“Road and freight infrastructure is fundamental for getting manufactured products from farm to factory to market, whether the market is in Australia or overseas,” Ms Carnell said.

Industry also applauded the Government’s commitment to finalise the National Freight strategy and develop an implementation strategy.

“Industry believes it’s essential to have a nationally consistent set of regulations in the transport sector to streamline Australia’s supply chain networks,” Ms Carnell said.

A commitment to progress the National Waste Policy and a product stewardship legislative framework was also supported by industry.