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Tuesday, 4 May 1971

In its report to the 79th Meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council (Melbourne, February 1971), the Consultative Committee made a series of recommendations:

I.   Commonwealth aid and approved drought relief measures

The Consultative Committee proposed a modification to the system presently governing Commonwealth financial assistance to drought affected States, to one where, in respect of a list of basic approved drought relief measures, the Commonwealth would assist a drought affected State once that State had spent from its own resources a' sum agreed in advance as being appropriate to the State.

This modification was designed to enable States to know in advance that Commonwealth assistance would be forthcoming on specified conditions also agreed in advance. It would minimise or remove the element of uncertainty that exists about Commonwealth support under the present system. At the same time primary producers would also be able to know in advance the extent, level(s) and conditions of drought relief that would be available to them should drought eventuate.

II.   Uniformity of Drought Freight Concessions

A.   Scope of Freight Concessions:

Assuming a Commonwealth/State financial arrangement as above:

(i)   single levels of freight concessions to operate throughout a drought period, these levels to be determined by State authorities;

(ii)   inter-state concessions should be met by the drought affected State;

(iii)   concessions for stock to apply to all classes of cattle and sheep and to working horses;

(iv)   where rail transport is impractical or unavailable and where prior approval is obtained, road freight concessions to apply on a similar basis to rail concessions.

B.   Mode of Operation:

Subject to appropriate safeguards, rail and road freight concessions to operate on the following basis:

(i)   Stock on agistment rebates for forward and return agistment of stock to applyintra-state and interstate;

(ii)   Stock for sale or slaughter . rebate for movement of stock to sale or slaughter within the drought-affected State only;

(iii)   Restocking a restocking rebate, at a similar level to return agistment, both intra-state and inter-state, for restocking to normal carrying capacity; any claim from twelve months after the end of drought to be considered on its merits;

(iv)   Fodder the rebate on fodder (including grains, urea, molasses etc) to operate intra-state and inter-state; (the Commonwealth representative had reservations on the cost of this concession if the sources of fodder are not limited to those in the proximate States(s);

(v)   Fodder purchased in anticipation a rebate payable when fodder used for drought feeding.

C.   Degree of Uniformity

To whatever extent it is feasible the rail and road freight concessions should be uniform in the eastern States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

III.   Longer Term Aspects of Drought

The establishment of a study group to consider the longer term aspects of drought with the objective of providing governments and primary producers with better information on which to make decisions aimed at reducing the effects of future droughts. The study group's investigations would be concerned with improving the knowledge of droughts, their recognition and occurrence, and their biological and economic consequences.







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