Federal Budget 2024: The weirdest Budget commitments from sweet potatoes to vegan proteins and parachutes

David Johns
The Nightly
3 Min Read
There was a lot on Jim Chalmers’ third Budget. But it was the little things that counted the most.
There was a lot on Jim Chalmers’ third Budget. But it was the little things that counted the most. Credit: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

From sweet potatoes to parachutes and vegan proteins – there are plenty of weird and wonderful funding promises in the Federal Budget.

While the Albanese Government will spend its time trumpeting the big-ticket items like energy bill relief and the Future Made In Australia scheme, but it’s the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them commitments that are the best of the bunch.

If you’re a fan of sweet potato fries you could be in for a treat next time you’re at the pub with a cut to the taxes sweet potato growers need to pay.

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The marketing component of the agricultural levy and charge on sweet potatoes will be axed, meaning the overall levy rate on sweet potatoes will drop from 1.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent.

Vegans buoyed by the news about sweet potatoes will also no doubt be pleased with the Albanese Government’s $1.5 million funding commitment to “improve existing arrangements for the accurate and clear labelling of plant-based alternative protein products”.

And speaking of fries, $20.7 million will be spent on improving foreign relations with the French via the Australia-France Roadmap.

This funding will include the establishment of an Australia-France Centre of Excellence for the Indo-Pacific, expansion of the Australia Awards program in the French Pacific territories and the establishment of an annual Hawke-Rocard Medal for “outstanding achievement in protecting the Antarctic environment”.

(As a side note, the Antarctic is by far the least populated continent to win big this Budget, with almost $300 million committed to continue the “delivery of the Australian Antarctic Program and expand Australia’s international scientific activities”.)

The Australia-France Roadmap will also include funding for enhanced Australian cultural promotion in France, as well as the sharing of expertise on hosting major sporting events, with a focus on inclusivity and sustainability. Whatever that means.

All those Aussies keen to head to France to foment closer ties with our new French friends can do so in a much faster fashion – with the introduction of a new and improved fast-track passport program.

Anyone travelling overseas after July 1 can opt to pay an extra $100 to get their passport applications processed in just five business days.

The Albanese Government reckons this fast-track charge will generate more than $27 million for government coffers.

Staying overseas, and $23.1 million will help establish a bilateral social security agreement with the Oriental Republic of Uruguay – meaning those who have split their working lives between the two countries will enjoy retirement income support.

And exactly $1 million will be allocated to the purchase of 140 aerial delivery parachutes to Jordan and the UAE to help deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

Heading back to Europe and the Albanese Government will provide $15.3 million to help along the manufacture and export of more than 100 Boxer heavy weapon carrier vehicles to Germany.

The armoured vehicles will be made in Redbank, Queensland under a contract valued at €1.9 billion.

The Australian Orphanage Museum has won a $1 million funding commitment for capital works and operating costs.

And the nation’s two least-known symphony orchestras – Canberra and Darwin – get to share in a healthy $5.2 million a year over four years to help with their financial sustainability.

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