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Monday, 8 March 1999
Page: 2435

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 10 December 1998.

(1) Have all states formally agreed to participate in the Government's FarmBis program.

(2) When was agreement reached with each State.

(3) If not all states have signed an agreement with the Commonwealth, which States have not signed the agreement and why have they failed to do so.

(4) Can details be provided of the Commonwealth/State partnership agreements entered into, and program elements agreed to, in relation to the FarmBis Program.

Senator Alston (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The majority of States have signed agreements with the Commonwealth. Tasmania has agreed in principle and minor details are being concluded. Negotiations with Queensland are continuing.

(2) Victoria reached agreement on 22 August 1998; South Australia reached agreement on 26 August 1998; Western Australia reached agreement on 7 September 1998; Northern Territory reached agreement on 1 October 1998; New South Wales reached agreement on 1 December 1998.

(3) Negotiations with Tasmania and Queensland were interrupted by both State elections (in each State) and the Commonwealth election. Key issues in negotiations were the sharing of program funding and the relationship between activities funded by FarmBis and the Property Management Planning (PMP) campaign.

(4) The agreements deal with the following key matters: FarmBis objectives; Strategies to achieve objectives; Supported activities; Delivery principles; Administration; Performance; Funding; Reporting.

The program elements agreed to may include, but are not limited to: Assist participants in learning activities by contributing to costs; Coordinate flexible, responsive delivery of education/training through engaging coordinators or a coordination system; Communicate benefits of continuous learning to eligible participants; Assist participants to identify and prioritise learning needs; Develop partnerships with key stakeholders and utilise existing networks; Improve access to information on learning opportunities by providing reference tools; and Establish a monitoring, reporting and evaluation regime on the performance of the program.