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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4993


Senator TROETH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (1:01 PM) — The purpose of the Dairy Industry Legislation Amendment Bill 2002 is to provide the Australian Dairy Corporation with the additional function of planning, facilitating and participating in the reform of that corporation and the Dairy Research and Development Corporation. While the government has yet to consider a detailed reform proposal, it is essential that such a proposal is rigorously and thoroughly examined. For this reason, extending the Australian Dairy Corporation's functions to provide for this is critical to any progress on this issue. I must say that the dairy industry remains progressive and successful and is to be commended for its continuing conscientious examination of its future and the structures that will assist it in maintaining its relevance in domestic and world markets.

The bill also provides for farmers with entitlements under the Dairy Structural Adjustment Program or the Supplementary Dairy Assistance scheme to access exit assistance through the Farm Help re-establishment grant scheme following the cessation of the Dairy Exit Program on 30 June this year. This means that eligible dairy farmers will continue to have access to a grant of up to $45,000 payable when they leave the industry and will also have access to the $3,500 retraining grant under Farm Help. Currently only those farmers who are not holders of the Dairy Structural Adjustment Program or the Supplementary Dairy Assistance entitlements are able to apply for exit grants under the Farm Help scheme. This inequitable situation will be corrected by removing impediments to the holders of these entitlements to access the Farm Help scheme.

The cost of these changes will be funded out of the Dairy Structural Adjustment Program, from which the Commonwealth dairy industry restructure measures are funded. These amendments will have little or no impact on the term of the dairy adjustment levy as they provide for future DSAP and SDA entitlements to be cancelled as part of receiving a dairy type grant under the Farm Help scheme. The grants under the Farm Help scheme are to be net of any entitlements previously mentioned already received by the applicant. These measures will ensure that those in the dairy industry who make the decision to exit agriculture will be able to do so with dignity and real choices for their futures. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.