Federal Budget 2014: Mixed results for farmers, Grampians Medicare Local

WIMMERA farmers are pleased the Federal Government has kept the diesel fuel rebate in its Federal Budget.

But it is not such positive news for Grampians Medicare Local, which will close its doors due to no funding in the budget.

The Federal Government announced plans to replace the service with Primary Health Networks on Tuesday.

Grampians Medicare Local - which employs 65 staff through offices in Horsham, Ararat and Ballarat - will make way for the new service from July 1, 2015.

Chief executive Andrew McPherson said it was too early to say what the closure would mean for health outcomes in the Wimmera.

"The functions of Grampians Medicare Local are supposed to be performed by the new Primary Health Networks," he said.

"Primary Health Networks will be far larger than Medicare Locals and there will be far fewer of them as a result.

"We're not sure yet how local services will be maintained and how communities and health stakeholders will have input into how they are run."

The budget revealed plans to consolidate 61 Medicare Locals into 20 Primary Health Networks nationally.

Mr McPherson said he was disappointed but remained positive for the future.

"We hope there'll be opportunity for us as an organisation, staff and a community to ensure these valued services continue," he said.

Victorian Farmers Federal president Peter Tuohey said there were rumours leading up to the budget that there would be a 10 per cent cut to the diesel fuel rebate.

The rebate allows farmers to claim fuel for off-road use under the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme.

It was established to refund farmers who pay the 38.14 cents a litre excise on diesel.

"But the Federal Government moved instead to increase the excise and the rebate, in line with inflation," Mr Tuohey said.

"It means farmers will retain the full rebate on the diesel fuel excise, which is a huge win for all Australian farmers.''

Grain Producers Australia chairman and Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann said the budget included positive outcomes for agriculture.

"Agriculture in a lot of ways escaped the budget's execution," he said.

"It's good to see we kept the fuel diesel rebate because it is crucial to agriculture and competitiveness of Australian produce on a global scale."

"Agriculture in a lot of ways escaped the budget's execution.'' - Andrew Weideman

Mr Tuohey said areas of concern included $146.9 million and 500 jobs cut from the CSIRO and $483 million cut from Landcare programs.

"A major concern is the significant slashing of $11.5 million over four years to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation," he said.

"Disappointingly, we didn't see any funding for the crucial National Centre for Farmer Health based at Hamilton.

"It's unfortunate to see the Federal Government abandoning this institution.

"This is a service we will continue to lobby for in the lead up to the state election in November."

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