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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 185

Farm Household Allowance

(Question No. 540)


Mr Fitzgibbon asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, in writing:

In respect of the media article by Natalie Kotsios 'Farm aid: Barnaby Joyce to rethink Farm Household Allowance scheme' (Weekly Times, 4 November 2016) which reported that he would examine the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) scheme if necessary, (a) when will he examine the FHA scheme, (b) what actions has he undertaken to ensure that he is satisfied that the FHA scheme is working effectively, (c) has he sought information as to why more than half of the FHA applications have been rejected in the past six months, (d) is it a fact that he said 'Just because we apply for it, doesn't mean you're entitled to it'; if so, who is he referring to in 'we' and 'you're', (e) will he provide clarification for Victorian irrigators on whether their water entitlements are counted towards the non-farm asset limit of $157,500, and (f) will he provide a breakdown, by state and territory, on the number of farmers receiving the FHA, to date.


Mr Joyce: The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(a) The Coalition is proud to have introduced FHA after Labor abolished the Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment and cut the Department of Agriculture budget in half. As of 16 December 2016 more than 6,860 farmers have benefited from the FHA. This assistance was not available under Labor. I regularly examine the FHA for its effectiveness. As with any government programme, it is prudent to keep policy settings and delivery arrangements under review to ensure they are delivered efficiently and effectively. I have sought advice from my department on steps that can be taken to streamline delivery and enhance the up-front customer experience for farmers. Senator Bridget McKenzie recently led a series of roundtable meetings on my behalf in regional Victoria, to receive feedback from dairy farmers regarding the implementation of the FHA and the Coalition Government's $579 million Dairy Support Package.

(b) I receiveregular updates on FHA uptake, geographic distribution and the status of claims.

(c) Yes. Over the life of the Farm Household Allowance until 16 December 2016 there have been 6 861 claims granted and 2 017 claims rejected.

(d) Farmers and their partners who believe they may benefit from the FHA are encouraged to apply and not self-assess. However, just because an individual applies for the FHA does not mean they will necessarily meet the eligibility criteria and be granted FHA payments.

(e) Under the Farm Household Support (Non-farm Assets) Amendment Rule 2016 I have exempted up to $1.1 million in net water assets from the FHA non-farm assets test. This provides clarity for all potential FHA applicants on how their water entitlements will be treated.

(f) The following table provides a breakdown by state/territory of the number of FHA recipients as at 16 December 2016.

State/Territory

Granted over the life of the programme

ACT

<20

NSW

2089

NT

<20

QLD

1992

SA

570

TAS

63

VIC

1989

WA

146

TOTAL

6861

Source: Department of Human Services

† Where there are fewer than 20 claims in any one state/territory, this figure has been masked so as to avoid privacy issues.