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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 272

Mr Kerin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   How many applications have been received by each State Agency for Rural Reconstruction under the States Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act 1971.

(2)   How many applications have been accepted and' how much aid has been given by each State in the same period.

(3)   What has been the average amount of reconstruction and build-up money advanced by each State to successful applicants.

(4)   How many applications have been received in each month in each State since January 1972.

(5)   Did the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture express the need for greater assistance for New South Wales at the February 1973 meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.

(6)   Did the New South Wales Minister for Lands ask for an increase in the percentage of available funds for New South Wales at the recent meeting which reviewed the Rural Reconstruction Scheme.

(7)   Did the New South Wales Minister for Lands enter into an agreement wilh the previous Government whereby the Agency in his State would expend available funds evenly until 30 June 1973.

(8)   As a reduction of, say, $4,000 to $5,000 per application granted would allow New South Wales to extend assistance to more applications, is there any way that other States are devising to stretch funds further which could be used by New South Wales.

(9)   What criteria are used by each State Agency in assessing viability of farms for reconstruction.

Dr Patterson - The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   to (4) The details sought are provided in the above tabulation:

(6)   No.

(7)   The summary of decisions taken at the 1972 meetings between Commonwealth and States to review the operation of the Rural Reconstruction Scheme included the following statements:

States will manage their operations so as to keep approvals within the limit of SI 15m in 1971-73 without a hiatus in the Scheme;

In managing their operations . . . the States would work to a programme of approvals and expenditure . . . .;

It is an understanding that the States will endeavour to deal with applications at such a rate that approvals and expenditure are spread as uniformly as possible over the period . . . .'

In a letter dated 25 May 1972, the Minister for Lands in New South Wales advised that the summary '. . . is acceptable to me as a record of the outcome of the review".

(8)   and (9) The agreements between the Commonwealth and the States include an outline of the principles on which the Rural Reconstruction Scheme is based and should be administered. Within these principles, the particular methods used to manage funds and the criteria observed for assessing the viability of farms are matters for determination by each State without reference to the Australian Government. In practice the criteria used and the methods adopted vary from State to State. Analyses of the Administration of the Scheme in the various States have been published in a recent report by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. States other than New South Wales have dealt with applications in a way that has brought about an uninterrupted flow of approvals within the limits of available funds.

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