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Tuesday, 22 October 2002
Page: 5584

Senator BUCKLAND (2:37 PM) —My question is to Senator Ian Macdonald, the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Does the minister recall the government's May 2001 funding announcement of $24.6 million for the Agricultural Development Partnership Program? Can the minister advise why no money has been allocated to the regions under this program despite the passage of 17 months?

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —No, I cannot. I did not actually hear Senator Buckland. Did you say the `agriculture' program or the `aquaculture' program?

Senator Buckland —The Agricultural Development Partnership Program.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I do not have the information in the brief before me. I will find out from Mr Truss. In doing so, I do not accept that that is in fact the case.

Senator BUCKLAND —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. While the minister is finding that out could he also find out whether it is the case that the failure to get the Agricultural Development Partnership Program running in the last financial year resulted in $2.5 million—almost 10 per cent of its funding—being reallocated to other programs? Are farmers being too cynical when they suggest the government's funding promise was nothing more than an empty pre-election pledge?

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —This government has done more for rural and regional Australia and for the farming sector than any government. In fact, this government has a real interest in rural and regional Australia and the farming sector. Many on this side, of course, represent those areas. I point out that not only do I say that but the people of country Australia recognise that. They said that at the last election: I think that with one exception every member representing the farming areas is from either the Liberal Party or the National Party in this parliament. Obviously farmers and rural people understand that this government is concerned about their issues. Our AAA package has been a great investment in farming Australia, one that we are very proud of and one that is being reviewed— and the review has come out very well. (Time expired)