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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12287

Farm Exit Grant Package

(Question No. 511)

Mr Forrest asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in writing, on 18 August 2011:

(1) Is the Minister aware of the department's decision on 10 August 2011 to cease honouring the farm exit grant package previously extended to 30 June 2012.

(2) Will the Minister consider reinstating this package for the many families pre-assessed as eligible by Centrelink and already in the process of selling or awaiting the sale of their farm asset on the strength of this grant offer.

Mr Burke: The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) On 10 August 2011 the Government announced the closure of the Exceptional Circumstances (EC) Exit Grant program to all new applicants. As the program guidelines clearly stated the EC Exit Grant program would close on 30 June 2012 or if all funds were expended. Closing the program earlier than anticipated hasn't reduced the number of people assisted; the same numbers of people have been assisted. The Government initially allocated $9.6 million to this program. At the time of closure this had been boosted to almost $14 million. The Government will continue to stand by farmers, as it did during the drought and now in a period of improved conditions.

(2) The Government will not re-open the program to new applicants. Anyone who was eligible for payment under the scheme will have their application assessed in line with the guidelines.