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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7810


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 11 November 2002:

(1) Has the department met all internal and external deadlines for assessment of Rural Financial Counselling Service funding applications in calendar year 2002.

(2) Can details be provided of adjusted internal and external deadlines in calendar year 2002, including extensions to application dates.

(3) When did the assessment of funding applications for the period July 2002 to October 2002 occur.

(4) When were applicants notified of this assessment.

(5) When did the assessment of funding applications for the period November 2002 to June 2004 occur.

(6) When were applicants notified of this assessment.


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

(1) and (2) Funding agreements for 2001-02 were due to expire on 30 June 2002. The intention to implement a four month extension to the agreements was advised to applicants on 18 January 2002.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry announced funding for a new Rural Financial Counselling Service Program on 14 March 2002 and applications for the twenty-month period 1 November 2002 to 30 June 2004 closed on 3 July 2002.

Applicants were advised that an outcome of the assessment process for the twenty-month period was likely to be announced in mid-September 2002. The date of the announcement was 23 September 2002.

(3) and (4) Applications were not called for the period July to October 2002. Agreements were extended as described in 1 & 2 above.

(5) The assessment of funding applications occurred on the following dates:

The Assessment Panel met on 17 July 2002, 5 and 6 August 2002, and at a teleconference on 13 August 2002.

The National Rural Advisory Council met on 26 August 2002 and at a follow up teleconference on 14 September 2002.

Applicants were notified of the assessment status of their applications by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 19 September 2002. These were faxed to applicants on 20 September 2002.