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SA on level playing field for federal drought relief.



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HON WARREN TRUSS MP MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

AFFA02/217WT 29 August 2002

SA on level playing field for Federal drought relief

Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss today assured South Australian farmers that they were on a level playing field with their Eastern cousins when it came to consideration for Federal drought relief applications.

Mr Truss was responding to suggestions by Labor Premier Mike Rann that Eastern states farmers were favoured under the current Exceptional Circumstances (EC) regime.

“Under criteria agreed by all States and the Commonwealth in 1992, once conditions reach once-in-a-lifetime proportions, Commonwealth Exceptional Circumstances relief can be accessed,” Mr Truss said.

“South Australia signed up to that agreement and therefore its farmers are treated in the same way and are subject to the same assessment criteria as those in all other States.”

Mr Truss assured SA farmers that he was aware of the dry conditions they were facing, but urged them not to let their Premier off the hook on drought.

“Drought relief has always been the responsibility of the States in the first instance. Mr Rann should be aware that EC assistance, which is about 96 per cent funded by the Federal Government, is for just that — exceptional circumstances.

“Rather than sitting back and waiting for the drought to reach once-in-a-lifetime proportions, Premier Rann has an opportunity now to give SA farmers access to a faster, more generous EC scheme,” Mr Truss said.

The assistance currently available to farmers in EC declared areas may include welfare support through Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments, and business support through Interest Rate Subsidies.

Mr Truss has been campaigning for two years to reform EC to give more generous business support to farmers by way of grants of up to $60,000 and to remove EC red tape.

“Fairer and more equitable cost-sharing arrangements with the States, in line with a proposal to share EC decision-making, are also a priority. As such, States will be expected to increase their funding commitment to EC through a 50:50 contribution to business support. This represents less than 20 per cent of the total cost of EC assistance.

“Premier Rann has the opportunity to give South Australian farmers an advantage over those in other States by making them eligible for a more generous EC scheme.”

Further media inquiries: Mr Truss's office, Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

The Hon Warren Truss MP Media Office | Media Releases | Speeches

Last updated 30 August 2002

URL: http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/truss/releases/02/02217wt.html Commonwealth of Australia 2002