Queensland Government Budget 2012
Overview of budget savings
The following is an overview providing more detail about the $31.7m of budget savings across the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The department will be refocusing resources and services to areas that will meet the Government´s target of doubling food production by 2040.
Agriculture, Forestry and Regional Services
Savings will be made through a restructure that will strengthen DAFF's ability to deliver the long-term Agriculture Strategy, Land Audit and workforce development initiatives.
While DAFF is withdrawing funding from Farm Financial Counsellors, it will continue to contribute to the Australian Government Rural Financial Counselling Service available free to regional Queensland. If there is an increased need for this service due to prolonged drought or a natural disaster, the State Government will consider purchasing additional services from the private sector.
The budget provision for the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) will be reduced this year because Queensland is currently experiencing good seasonal conditions, and drought is not an issue that is impacting on production.
Food and Innovation Productivity Incentives (FIPI) will cease. DAFF will work with the applicants from this discontinued program to see if they can be funded in other ways, such as through Commonwealth innovation programs.
DAFF will no longer fund the AgForward Coal Seam Gas Landholder Support initiative, which was implemented in response to the rapid growth of CSG exploration in south west and central Queensland and the industry´s inadequate consultation on the impacts to agri-businesses. Circumstances have changed with other agencies such as the Gas Fields Commission now in place to work with rural landholders, regional communities and CSG companies to improve co-existence. Already planned Agforward events will be completed.
Savings will be made as a result of reprioritising research and development activities. This includes research, development and extension focused on emerging or potential industries where the industry's value to Queensland´s economy has grown more slowly than expected; research and development (R&D) that can be carried out by other providers; or where the industry support for R&D has reduced significantly.
This applies to:
remote sensing in farming systems,
fisheries genetics, and
DAFF is closing the Wormbuster Laboratory at Dutton Park. This is a fee-for-service lab which receives samples from producers, who purchase a kit to collect dung. The lab then analyses the sample for worms and provides management recommendations. It is understood from industry that this service is provided by private companies. As such, the department will continue to provide this service until it is transitioned to the private sector or some alternative arrangements are made.
There has also been a decline in the support for lifestyle horticulture research from businesses. While DAFF is stopping its funding of R&D, it is hoped that other research providers, including Queensland´s universities and specialist consultants, will become involved in this area. The Crop Development Glasshouse Facility at Redlands will continue to operate and the industries that lease office space at the Redlands Facility will remain.
DAFF is negotiating to transition funding of R&D at the Northern Fisheries Aquaculture Facility to industry who are keen to acquire aquaculture technologies and fingerling supply for tropical marine finfish and the R&D and supply of young animals for tropical rock lobster.
Biosecurity remains a critical element of the government´s focus on agriculture. However the emphasis has moved from regulation, policy and planning to improved on-ground service delivery. This means providing more frontline staff to deal directly with landholders and industry.
New biosecurity legislation will replace seven Acts with one, reducing red tape. There will be reduced effort in policy and legislation - this will be offset with new operational staff. Operational support groups that are focused on planning and administration will be disbanded and specialist staff moved back with frontline staff. This on-ground support in the regions will be extended through the services of the call centre, improved online service delivery for business transactions and provision of specialist information.
The functions of the Townsville and Toowoomba veterinary laboratories will be transferred to an expanded Coopers Plains facility, with any required confirmatory tests continuing to be performed at the Australian Animal Health Laboratories in Geelong. In Townsville and Toowoomba transition arrangements will be put in place and industry and other stakeholders will be made aware of the changes, so they continue to have access to appropriate diagnostic testing and veterinary support and advice.
DAFF will be scaling back parts of its weed and pest animal research effort. Some lower priority weed research programs will also be shut down to allow effort to shift into higher priority programs or working with landholders through the new weed and pest animal frontline officers.
The Inglewood research station will close this year. Pest animal research will continue out of the Robert Wicks research centre in Toowoomba.
The Yellow Crazy Ant eradication program will cease. Given the new infestation found last financial year, eradication is not possible from within existing resources. Other management options for this pest will be investigated.
There is a reduction on last year´s top-up of funding for the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) program. DAFF will provide additional funding of $1.125 million, on top of its share of the $15 million national cost shared budget to achieve the nationally approved focus of containing fire ants to South East Queensland.
Savings will be made as a result of identifying efficiencies in corporate costs and amalgamating core functions to better service a standalone department.
The DAFF library at PIB will be closed and resources relocated. It is proposed that four librarians be retained to work from the Ecosciences Precinct and the Health and Food Sciences Precinct to offer a research information service to DAFF scientists throughout Queensland. Printed material held by the library will be dispersed to the State Library, government archives and to the libraries at the science precincts.
The 2012-13 Queensland Government budget will fund services to continue to support recreational and commercial fishing in Queensland.
Expenditure this year on recreational fisheries management and activities will be in excess of $10 million. Services that Fisheries Queensland will provide include:
- compliance, surveillance and enforcement including boat ramp signage and community service announcements
- communication and education programs including free handbook for recreational fishers
- fish stocking and recovery programs, pest fish education, and marine habitat protection
- recreational fishing survey including Keen Angler and online diary program
- research, monitoring, and reporting activities
- scientific assessment and policy development.
This funding is in addition to the $10 million election commitment that will see enhanced monitoring of recreational fishing and a buyback of commercial netting licences.
The entire amount raised through the Recreational Use Fee (RUF) on recreational boat registrations will continue to be used to fund services related only to recreational fishing.
Savings will be made by continuing only those activities aligned to administering the Fisheries Act and associated regulatory reform.
The Marine Ecology group will be transitioned to James Cook University.
The Fisheries Observers´ program will be discontinued given observing is effectively a commercial activity and is available as a service from the private sector.
The freshwater fishing program will continue to administer the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIPS), and undertake policy related to freshwater stocking and native fish scientific expertise, as well as offering pest and noxious fish advice. However, design and construction of water way barriers will discontinue as this work should be undertaken in the private sector as part of the process of building dams, weirs and roads.
DAFF will reduce funding for industry development. The Government´s work in this area will continue to focus on regulatory reform to support the aquaculture, commercial fishing and recreational fishing sectors, improving business outcomes for these areas needs to be a function driven by industry.
Savings will be made from a restructure of field officers and vessel engineers in the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol to build skills and focus capacity in priority areas.
DAFF will wind down the Fishcare Volunteers program in the coming months. However, there may be an opportunity for recreational fishing groups, such as Sunfish Queensland, to take responsibility for the program.