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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2404

Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (11.04 a.m.) —I think that motion is appropriate and timely. It is appropriate because, as has been said, this is trawling something into the bill that was not appropriately here. I am resisting the temptation to score any points this morning off arguments that have already been presented. It is a matter of some concern to a lot of people. There are issues of concern, but there are some facts that seem to be confusing the issue. The best place for it is the committee.

  There is an assumption that all farms are asset rich and income poor. It is important to note in relation to the assets test—Senator Harradine in particular might need to take this into account—that it is only the net market value of the asset, less any debt, that is actually counted for assets. So for farms that do carry very large debt—this is exempt of the curtilage or the home—that is the asset part that gets taken into account. As well, the government, in recognition of the point I think Senator Woodley is making, introduced hardship provisions some time ago.

  Instead of arguing it through here, in the light of the proposal by Senator Lees that this be referred to a committee, in support of—

Senator Patterson —I moved that.

Senator CROWLEY —Senator Lees has just formally moved that, but I understood that Senator Patterson gave notice yesterday that that could be her intent. If it was not formally moved by Senator Patterson, and it has been by Senator Lees, we have a unanimity of purpose on this point, and I think that is the way to go.

  Amendment negatived.