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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7823

Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (10:45): Senator Rice, at the risk of repeating myself for the 14th time, the current situation, which everyone seems to be quite satisfied with, allows the executive of government to undertake and make these decisions in relation to this particular suite of products that are in the marketplace. These products have a very specific role to play, and that is to assist our farming community when situations of hardship affect them—most often not of their own making.

Currently, we have a suite of products. Definitely, after the consultation and discussions that I have had in my role as the assistant minister, and also through my role as someone who's lived in rural and regional Australia for many years, the ability for responsiveness in these loans is something that's been criticised for some time. We have a situation right now where we are providing this assistance to communities across the whole of rural and regional Australia. We're seeking to do so by a mechanism that is now going to enable it to be more streamlined and more responsive, and which is actually going to provide a better service to those people who are affected.

To have a situation as you're proposing, where we have some sort of extraordinarily high level of parliamentary power to be able to come in and make decisions in relation to stuff—decisions that have in the past always been made by the executive arm of government, for the reasons that I stated previously—is, first of all, an extraordinary precedent to set. But think about the farmers who wish to be able to get access—very often with some level of speed. You're suggesting here that it's appropriate for us to have this extraordinarily increased level of intervention by this very parliament. That is something that is quite unprecedented in the level of intervention that you are proposing by suggesting that every single thing has to come here to somehow get ticked off by you.