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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8114

Commercial Horse Assistance Payment Scheme

(Question No. 2155)

Senator Williams asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 10 September 2012:

Given that, under the Commercial Horse Assistance Payment Scheme introduced in 2007, horses were required to be in training and ready to race, or at least fit and healthy and in their stables, in order to qualify for compensation:

(1) Was an inspection ever undertaken at any racecourse or stable to verify that the returns provided by trainers matched the numbers claimed?

(2) Were racing clubs contacted in order to verify that the claimed number of horses were in fact being trained on that track; ifnot, how were the numbers verified?

(3) Was the scheme ever audited by a body such as the Australian National Audit Office?

Senator Ludwig: The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Yes. The Commercial Horse Assistance Payments (CHAPs) program was delivered by six organisations under guidelines that allowed for on-site inspections to verify claims being made, or to verify claims being made by a third party. I am advised that site visits were made by all six delivery organisations.

(2) CHAPs delivery organisations included racing clubs in New South Wales and Queensland. Each delivery organisation was required under their funding deed to implement appropriate governance practices and maintain records to enable an independent review at the completion of the program. To ensure racehorse trainers did not claim payments for more horses than they had, applicants were required to:

complete and sign an initial application form that included a declaration that all information in the statement was complete and accurate;

provide evidence of stable returns detailing horses under their care that were in work but unable to generate an income; and

complete a Statutory Declaration.

(3) The Australian National Audit Office has not audited CHAPs. However, each delivery organisation was subject to an independent third-party financial and performance audit at the completion of the program. The reports on individual delivery organisations were provided to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and informed the findings of a final report. The final report is available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's website.