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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 878

Senator BOSWELL —My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy. I welcome reports that the minister will be taking a drought relief package to cabinet on Wednesday. I ask the minister whether he will consider placing a moratorium on the repayment of farm household support by those still on the land and, secondly, whether the greater access to income support reportedly in the package will be made at the expense of access to re-establishment grants which act as an incentive to adjust out of the rural sector for those with little hope of long-term survival?

Senator COLLINS —I thank Senator Boswell for his question. Senator Boswell has been very active on this issue of drought for some weeks. Indeed, I must say that Senator Boswell has established a far higher profile on this issue than the shadow minister, Mr Anderson, which must be very galling—

Senator Boswell —He is not in here.

Senator COLLINS —Well, perhaps you could shift the portfolio into the Senate. I will be taking a submission to cabinet on Wednesday. I can assure Senator Boswell that the issues he has raised here this afternoon of FHS and re-establishment grants will be canvassed in that submission. Of course, until cabinet makes a decision on it I cannot say anything further about it. I may be old-fashioned about this, Mr President, but I believe that cabinet should hear about it before anybody else. I will be in a position to provide the Senate with a more comprehensive answer after Wednesday. I assure Senator Boswell that the issues he has raised in his question today have been canvassed.

Senator BOSWELL —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is it the minister's intention to put down a drought package which can be debated or will he just issue a press release?

Senator COLLINS —If I was offered a choice, I would take option two.