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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5726


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) (3:03 PM) —Yesterday Senator Buckland asked me about the Agricultural Development Partnership Program. I can tell Senator Buckland that in the 2001-02 budget the Commonwealth announced the program, which is designed to provide assistance for structural adjustment targeted to agricultural industries and regions experiencing significant problems affecting farm profitability and sustainability. A feature of the program is that the state governments are expected to provide matching funding to facilitate a genuine partnership approach.

The state governments' responses have been, to put it politely, mixed. There have been a number of issues and points of difference, especially with regard to the shared funding responsibilities. In 2001-02, as the states had not come on board, $2.5 million was transferred from the program to fund other regional and industry priorities within the portfolio. A revised set of guidelines is now being prepared, Senator Buckland, and is being considered by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry prior to dispatch to state ministers for their concurrence.

The Commonwealth is very eager for the partnership program to become operational but it will depend on the future support and cooperation of the states. A number of preliminary proposals that may fit within the program either have been developed or are being developed in some states. I urge Senator Buckland to use his influence with the Labor states to get them to come on board with this program so that the money can start to flow.