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Tuesday, 26 June 2001
Page: 25108


Senator HARRIS (5:37 PM) —by leave—I amend request (5) on sheet 2262, and move the amended request:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment:

Schedule 1, item 10, page 10 (lines 13 to 31), omit subclause (4), substitute:

(4) For the purposes of this clause, an entity passes the lease income test if the eligible lease net income derived by the entity in the 2000-2001 financial year is at least 20% less than the average of the eligible lease net income derived by the entity in the 1999-2000, 1998-1999 and 1997-1998 financial years.

Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

The amendments increase amounts that are payable under the Supplementary Dairy Assistance (SDA) scheme and lower the eligibility threshold for the scheme. The SDA scheme is funded by a levy paid on retail sales of milk under 3 Dairy Adjustment Levy Acts of 2000 (covering General, Excise and Customs aspects of the levy). Under clause 83 of Schedule 2 of the Dairy Produce Act 1986 (the principal Act), the Commonwealth is required to pay to the Australian Dairy Corporation an amount equal to the levies that are actually received and notionally payable. The Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated for this purpose. The Corporation then disburses these funds under the Dairy Industry Adjustment Program and the proposed SDA, established by the bill. The amendments will result in an increased charge against the appropriation in the principal Act and have therefore been drafted as requests because they will increase the “proposed charge or burden on the people” within the meaning of the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution.

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

The Senate has long accepted that an amendment should take the form of a request if it would have the effect of increasing expenditure under a standing appropriation in an Act amended by the bill. These requests are therefore in accordance with the precedents of the Senate.

I indicated earlier that I did not support the Democrats amendment, because I believed that it did not go far enough. It is not that I do not support the intent of what Senator Woodley set out to do. It would have gone part of the way to removing the anomaly under which the dairy producers are required to indicate hardship.

As I said before when questioning Senator Macdonald, through the chair, on other amendments, there is an anomaly between those who are operating under a sharefarmer process and those who are operating under a lease agreement. As Senator Woodley indicated earlier, there is also an anomaly in the fact that none of the producers who received a benefit under the Dairy Industry Adjustment Bill 2000 were required to actually prove they met hardship criteria. Therefore, it is unjust that anybody who is applying for this additional supplementary assistance should be required to go through an additional phase.

This Pauline Hanson's One Nation amendment deletes from the bill the references to an entity passing the income test. If their net income is lower than the average over the preceding three financial years then they are eligible for the additional supplementary assistance. Senator Macdonald mentioned earlier that some larger producers would then be eligible for this further assistance. These larger producers are suffering the same costs on all of their production, over and above the volume that the $80,000 cut-off would afford them. If it is the government's intention to exclude those larger producers, they are doing it at the cost of the smaller family dairy entities. I focus on the purpose of this bill—that is, to assist those dairy farmers to stay in the industry. By removing the hardship criteria from the bill, this amendment puts them on the same footing as anybody who has received an adjustment payment under the original bill.

I seek clarification of the supplementary assistance bill from Senator Macdonald. Is it a requirement of this bill that, to receive a benefit, an entity would have had to have made an application under the original bill—that is, the Dairy Industry Adjustment Bill? Or can anybody in the industry who was an operator during the period of the criteria for the original bill, if they did not apply under that bill, now make an application for this supplementary assistance?