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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5220


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 15 August 2002:

(1) Has the Minister written to state treasurers and/or premiers outlining proposed administrative and funding changes to the Exceptional Circumstances (EC) Program discussed at the May meeting of the Primary Industries Ministerial Council; if so, when did the Minister write to: (a) New South Wales; (b) Queensland; (c) Victoria; (d) Western Australia; (e) South Australia; and (f) Tasmania.

(2) Has the Minister received replies to his correspondence from state treasurers and/or premiers; if so, when did the Minister receive replies from: (a) New South Wales; (b) Queensland; (c) Victoria; (d) Western Australia; (e) South Australia; and (f) Tasmania.

(3) Have any state treasurers and/or premiers agreed to accept the Minister's proposed changes to the program.


Senator Ian Macdonald (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry wrote to all State, and the Northern Territory, Treasurers on 29 May 2002 regarding the proposed new EC framework and the funding arrangements for EC business support.

(2) The Minister has received the following replies to his correspondence. (a) New South Wales - 1 July 2002; (b) Queensland - 4 July 2002; (c) Victoria - 5 July 2002 (acknowledgement only); (f) Tasmania - 28 June 2002 (acknowledgment only) and 15 August 2002; and the Northern Territory - 31 July 2002.

(3) None of the replies were supportive of the proposed changes to the program. However at the Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting in May, most State and Territory Ministers were positive about the proposed EC reform framework and have previously given agreement-in-principle to the proposed EC framework. On 30 August 2002, State and Territory Agricultural Ministers sent a joint letter refusing to provide any additional funding for EC reform