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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 4051


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (16:54): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.

Leave granted.

Senator XENOPHON: I table an explanatory memorandum. I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Exceptional Circumstances Exit Package (EC Exit Package) was introduced in 2007 by the Howard Government to assist producers and irrigators in severe financial difficulty during the drought.

According to the website of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (as at 04 July 2011), which administers the package, it is "designed to assist farmers who have a significant long-term personal and financial attachment to their property and choose to leave their long-term family farm".

Given this, it is vital that families who make the difficult decision to leave their farms - some of which have been in their family for generations - are able to fully utilise the money they receive under the package so they can start their new lives.

The Package consists of several components, including grants for Advice and Re-training and Relocation. The total value of the Package may be up to $150,000, and is taxable.

In the 2011-12 Budget, the EC Exit Package was extended for another 12 months, and is due to end on 30 June 2012.

However, there have been reports that farmers who have received the EC Exit Package have been threatened by creditors that they will have them declared bankrupt, seeking to capitalise on the funds they have received under the Package.

Under the provisions of this Bill, the EC Exit Package will be exempt from bankruptcy proceedings, so long as the final orders have not been made.

This is to ensure that the intention of the scheme is upheld: to assist farmers to leave their properties, to relocate and to retrain in new employment so they can continue to support themselves and their families.

Ultimately, the significant purpose of the EC Exit Package is to enable farmers who wish to leave the land with dignity to use the funds received under the Package to start afresh. This amendment will ensure that this can occur.

Senator XENOPHON: I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.