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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1329

(Question No. 148)

Mr Braithwaite asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 19 March 1985:

Is it a fact that (a) farmers who have decreased their work on the farm to an extent to free them for full-time work are not considered 'unemployed', (b) farmers' wives who normally assist their husbands in farm work when they are freed to be available for full-time work elsewhere, are considered as 'unemployed' and (c) the children of farming families who normally assist their families in farm work, even if they are freed to be available for full-time work elsewhere, are not considered 'unemployed' within the terms of the Social Security Act.

Mr Howe —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) To qualify for unemployment benefit, an applicant must be unemployed, capable of undertaking and willing to undertake suitable paid work and be taking reasonable steps to obtain such work. Each application for benefit is considered on its individual merits but the above requirements of the Social Security Act mean that it is unlikely that farmers who are committed to maintaining their farms as ongoing enterprises will satisfy these criteria. The Federal Court has indicated that in considering whether a person may properly be regarded as unemployed, it is necessary to have regard to the person's commitment to their current activities. In the case of a self-employed primary producer this involves an examination of whether there is a commitment to continue farming or to obtain alternative work. Consistent with this view of continuing commitment, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has found that farmers cannot be regarded as unemployed merely because they have arranged their continuing farming activities in such a way as to be available during the normal working week for full-time, off-farm employment.

(b) The wife of a farmer who normally assists her husband in farm work who claims unemployment benefit must satisfy the same eligibility criteria to establish entitlement.

(c) Similarly, children of farming families who normally assist in farm work must satisfy those same criteria.