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Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2003

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2002-2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FARM HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT AMENDMENT BILL 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry,

the Hon Warren Truss MP)

 



 

FARM HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT AMENDMENT BILL 2003

 

GENERAL OUTLINE 

 

1.    The “Farm Help - Supporting Families Through Change” program is the Commonwealth’s key program for supporting farmers in severe financial difficulties. Under Farm Help, assistance is available to low-income farm families who cannot borrow further against their assets while they consider their future. The program encourages these farmers to work towards improving their farm’s financial situation, whether it is by improving their farm’s financial performance or by obtaining off farm income, or to re-establish themselves outside of farming.

 

2.    The Commonwealth announced in the 2003 Budget that it would extend all elements of the Farm Help Program. The Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2003 will amend the Farm Household Support Act 1992 to extend the closing date for applications for Farm Help Income Support from 30 November 2003 to 30 June 2004 and the deadline for Farm Help Income Support payments from 30 November 2004 to 30 June 2005.

 

3.    The Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2003 will also give effect to a number of proposed enhancements to the Farm Help program, including:

     the expansion of the requirement to develop an Activity Plan to all applicants for the Farm Help Program (currently, this requirement only applies to farmers whose farm businesses are assessed as non-viable) and to allow the Activity Plan to be used to identify activities that keep the farm in a viable position;

     the amalgamation of the current Professional Advice and Retraining grants into a single grant;

     the introduction of a requirement for the certificate of inability to obtain finance, which is needed to qualify for the program, to be only provided by the finance institution that is the farmer’s primary lender; and

     provision for a certificate of inability to obtain finance to have effect for 13 months from the date of issue and the specification of the circumstances in which the Certificate ceases to have effect. 



4.    The proposed enhancements have emanated from the on-going monitoring of the program’s performance, a mid-term evaluation of Farm Help conducted in 2002 and the Performance Audit of Key Agriculture-Advancing Australia Programs undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office in 2002 and 2003.



5.    It should be noted that the Instruments established under the Farm Household Support Act 1992 are to be amended to implement other program enhancements. The Farm Help Advice Scheme 1997 Instrument is to be amended to specify the operational details of the combined Farm Help Advice and Training grant. The Farm Help Re-establishment Grant Scheme 1997 Instrument is to be amended to extend the closing date for applications for the Re-establishment Grant out to 30 June 2004 and to clarify the eligibility criteria for the Grant so that it is paid to farmers for whom it was intended, that is farmers who have been and continue to be reliant on the farm for their livelihood.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT



6.    The proposed amendments contained in the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2003 will not impose any additional costs on the Commonwealth. The overall cost of the Farm Help program in 2003-04, including the proposed enhancements, are expected to be met from within existing budgeted expenditure levels.





 

NOTES OF CLAUSES



Clause 1 - Short Title



7.         This clause provides for the Act to be called the Farm Household Support Amendment Act 2003 .



Clause 2 - Commencement



8.         Clause 2 specifies the commencement date for the provisions in the Act. Most provisions will come into effect on the date the Farm Household Support Amendment Act 2003 receives Royal Assent.



Clause 3 - Schedule(s)



9.         Clause 3 provides that the amendments specified in a Schedule to the Act, and any other items in a Schedule, are amended or repealed according to the terms of the Schedule.

 

SCHEDULE 1 - AMENDMENT OF THE FARM HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT

ACT 1992

 

Part 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1 - Subsection 3(2)



10.     Item 1 provides for the farm help advice and training scheme. The combined effect of Items 1 and 2 is to rename the farm help advice scheme, an instrument established under the Farm Household Support Act 1992, as the farm help advice and training scheme.

 

Item 2 - Subsection 3(2) (definition of farm help advice scheme)



11.     Item 2 repeals the definition of the farm help advice scheme.

 

Item 3 - Subsection 3(2)



12.     Item 3 provides for the definition of farm help scheme payments to include the payment of farm help advice and training grants



Item 4 - Subsection 4(1)



13.     Item 4 clarifies that the Certificate of Inability to Obtain Finance, which is required to qualify for Farm Help Income Support, needs to be provided by the finance institution that is the farmer’s primary lender.





 

Item 5 - Subsections 4(2) and 4(3)



14.     Item 5 provides for a Certificate of Inability to Obtain Finance to have effect for 13 months from the date of issue and specifies the circumstances in which the Certificate ceases to have effect.

 

Item 6 - Subsection 4(4)



15.     Item 6 specifies the meaning of primary lender in relation to the Certificate of Inability to Obtain Finance.

 

Item 7 - Paragraph 6B(a)



16.     Item 7 extends the Farm Help program by extending the closing date for applications for income support from 30 November 2003 to 30 June 2004.

 

Item 8 - Paragraph 6B(b)



17.     Item 8 extends the Farm Help program by extending the last date for income support payments from 30 November 2004 to 30 June 2005.



Item 9 - Paragraph (9)(3)(f)



18.     Item 9 omits farm help advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.



Item 10 - Section 13A

 

19.     Item 10 omits farm help advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.



Item 11 - Subsection 13B(1)



20.     Item 11 obligates the Secretary to issue a direction to everyone who makes a claim for Farm Help Income Support to develop and act in accordance with an individual activity plan.      



Item 12 - Subsection 13B(2)



21.     Item 12 repeals the restrictions placed on the Secretary in terms of who can be given an activity plan direction. The repeal of this subsection enables the Secretary to issue an activity plan direction to all applicants for Farm Help Income Support.

 

Item 13 - after Paragraph 13B(3)(a)



22.     Item 13 extends the scope of the Activity Plan so that it can be used to assist a farmer to keep his or her farm in a viable position.



Item 14 - Subsection 13B(4)



23.     Item 14 omits farm help advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.

 

Item 15 - Subsection 13B(5)



24.     Item 15 provides the consequences for not complying with an Activity Plan direction to be determined in accordance with the farm help advice and training scheme.



Item 16 - Subsection 52A(3)



25.     Item 16 omits restart advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training Scheme. The restart advice scheme is the same as the farm help advice scheme.



Item 17 - Subsections 52A(3A), (3B) and 3(C)



26.     Item 17 repeals these subsections.



Item 18 - Subsection 52A(4)



27.     Item 18 omits the reference to subsection 52A(3A) as this subsection is to be repealed.



Item 19 - Subsection 52A(4)



28.     Item 19 omits restart advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme. The restart advice scheme is the same as the farm help advice scheme.



Item 20 - Subsection 52A(5)



29.     Item 20 omits the reference to sub-section 52A(3A) as this subsection is to be repealed.



Item 21 - Subsection 52A(5)



30.     Item 21 omits restart advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme. The restart advice scheme is the same as the farm help advice scheme.



Item 22 - Part 9B (heading)



31.     Item 22 omits farm help advice scheme from the heading and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.



Item 23 - Subsection 52B(1)



32.     Item 23 enables the Minister, by written instrument, to formulate a scheme to be known as the farm help advice and training scheme. This item also specifies the purposes for which assistance may be provided under the scheme.

 

Item 24 - Subsection 52B(2)(d) and (e)



33.     Item 24 allows the Minister to specify, in the farm help advice and training scheme, the types of training for which the farm help advice and training grant may be used and the people who may provide this training.  

 

Item 25 - Subsection 52B(3)(a)



34.     Item 25 omits restart and substitutes farm help.   

 

Item 26 - Subsection 52B(3)(b)



35.     Item 26 omits the reference to subsection 52A(3A) as this subsection is to be repealed.

 

Item 27 - Subsection 52B(3)(c)



36.     Item 27 provides that the farm help advice and training scheme specifies the method for determining the consequences of not complying with a direction made by the Secretary that relates to obtaining advice or developing an activity plan.

 

Item 28 - Subsection 53(4)



37.     Item 28 omits farm help advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.

 

Item 29 - Subsection 53A(8)



38.     Item 29 omits farm help advice scheme and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.

 

 

Part 2 - Application, Saving and Transitional Provisions

 

Item 30 - Definitions



39.     Item 30 defines commencement and Principal Act for the purposes of Part 2 of the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2003 .

 

Item 31 - Certificates of Inability to Obtain Finance

 

40.     Item 31 states that the amendments relating to the Certificate of Inability to Obtain Finance apply to Certificates issued after the commencement date. This Item also provides for Certificates in effect immediately prior to the commencement date to be valid for 13 months from the date of issue. Such certificates would cease to have effect if a finance institution makes a loan available to the farmer or if farm help income support ceases to be paid.

 

Item 32 - Extension of Farm Help Income Support



41.     Item 32 allows for persons who applied for Farm Help Income Support before or after the commencement date to receive farm help income support up to 30 June 2005 (subject to the other provisions of the Act relating to the payment of Farm Help Income Support).

 

Item 33 - Activity Plan Directions under Section 13B



42.     Item 33 provides for amendments relating to Activity Plan directions to apply to claims for Farm Help Income Support made after commencement. This item also provides for the continued effect, after commencement, of any Activity Plan directions that were issued by the Secretary prior the commencement date, as if the amendments to Section 13B had not been made.

 

Item 34 - Activity plan directions under farm help re-establishment grant scheme



43.     Item 34 provides for amendments relating to Activity Plan directions under the Farm Help Re-establishment grant scheme to apply to claims for re-establishment grant made after commencement.  This item also provides for the continued effect, after commencement, of subsections 52(3A), (3B) and (3C) in relation to claims for re-establishment grant, the provisions of the farm help re-establishment grant scheme and any activity plan directions established under the scheme that were in force immediately before commencement, as if the repeal of these subsections had not been made.

 

Item 35 - Farm help advice and training scheme



44.     Item 35 provides for the continued effect of the farm help advice scheme after commencement, despite the repeal of this subsection. This item also provides for the amendments to the farm help advice scheme to apply to claims for the farm help advice and training grant made after commencement. At the same time, farmers who were eligible for assistance under the farm help advice scheme or the retraining grant under the farm help re-establishment grant scheme immediately before commencement are eligible to receive the farm advice and training grant. However, the Secretary may give an Activity Plan direction to these farmers if they seek payments of the farm advice and training grant. Any such Activity Plan direction is to be taken to be an Activity Plan direction given under subsection 13B(1).

 

Item 36 - Application of Item 27



45.     Item 36 states that the method for determining the consequences of not complying with directions made by the Secretary specified in the farm help advice and training scheme will apply to breaches, made after commencement, of directions given before and after commencement.

 



SCHEDULE 2 - AMENDMENT OF OTHER ACTS

 

Farm Household Support Amendment Act 2000

 

Item 1 - Item 51 of Schedule 1



46.     Item 1 is a statute law revision amendment to correct an error in Item 51 of Schedule 1 of the Farm Household Support Amendment Act 2000 .

 

Social Security Act 1991

 

Item 2 - Subsection 23(1) (definition of Farm Household Support Act 1992)



47.     Item 2 omits farm help advice scheme from the definition of Farm Household Support Act 1992 contained in the Social Security Act 1991 and substitutes farm help advice and training scheme.

 

Item 3 - Application of Item 2



48.     Item 3 states that Item 2 will apply to claims for Farm Help Income Support that are made after the commencement of this item.