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Wednesday, 8 December 1976

Mr SIMON (McMillan) -When the debate on this significant Bill was interrupted last evening, honourable members will recall, I was speaking on that part of the Bill dealing with household support. I was referring to an article written by Mr Ronald Anderson and published in last Friday's Age. He analysed a report prepared for the Australian National Cattlemens' Council on the state of the beef farmer in Australia. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics figures referred to in the ANCC report forecast for 1976-77 that 13 490 producers with 2.83 million head of cattle, with an average herd size of 210 beasts, are in the category of recording annual net loss ranging from 0 to $5,000. The statistics to which Ihave referred reflect considerable human suffering in the rural sectorsuffering which will to some extent at least be alleviated by the household support scheme referred to in part 7 of the Agreement set out in this Bill. I have referred only to beef and milk producers who will have no income in the current year. That will have personal consequences to the farmer and his family and will flow through to the whole rural community- the shopkeeper, the supplier of rural machinery, the rate collector from the local municipality, the bank manager giving consideration to realisation of the bank's security or considering deferment of payment of interest on the farmer's loan. The whole community will benefit from the introduction of the household support scheme.

Honourable members will recall the variation of conditions of eligibility for unemployment benefits introduced in May this year. This was an urgent interim measure aimed at relieving the financial hardship of many farming families in Australia. Without that variation thousands of farmers would not have been entitled to this basic social service- a basic income to feed the recipient and his family. One of the new guidelines for entitlement announced by the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) in May this year stated:

A primary producer who ceases to be engaged on his property to the extent that his personal attendance is not necessary for the continued operation of the property can be accepted as 'unemployed' for unemployment benefit purposes. Such a primary producer will have to satisfy the test of being available for employment and of actively seeking employment. This involves registering with the Commonwealth Employment Service and being prepared to take work that becomes available off the property.

This urgent measure was acted upon by many desperate farmers. As at 6 August 2475 primary

Producers were receiving unemployment b enefits which they would not have received without the alteration to the guidelines. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard 2 tables which give the statistical data of the unemployed recipients of benefits, by State and by classification, in the rural sector.

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