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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 4091

Senator FORSHAW (1:34 PM) —The opposition does not oppose the bill. Indeed, we support the principle upon which the bill is based, namely, to promote the intergenerational transfer of family farms. We do have some concerns, however, that ultimately the government's proposed scheme will do little to promote the objective. There have been concerns raised that the original estimates by the government that some 10,000 families would be able to take advantage of the scheme have been revised substantially, down now to an estimated 2,100.

Further, during consideration of the legislation before the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, a number of witnesses, including the National Farmers Federation and their constituent bodies, claimed that the asset limit of $500,000 was too low and that few farmers would qualify for pensions under the scheme. This may well be the case, but we do not believe that the simple answer is to increase the asset limit, as they have requested. Indeed, it may well negate the primary focus of the scheme which is directed at families in severe hardship.

Finally, there have been concerns raised about the taxation and other legal implications of property transfers under the scheme. We urge the government and the Taxation Office to look at those issues to ensure that they do not create potential problems. With those reservations, we indicate that we do not oppose the bill.