Senate debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018



4:11 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | Hansard source

I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the Farm Household Support Amendment (Temporary Measures) Bill 2018, allowing it to be considered during this period of sittings.

I also table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—


Purpose of the Bill

The bill will amend the Farm Household Support Act 2014 (FHS Act) to temporarily increase the farm asset threshold of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) from $2.55 million (indexed annually, currently indexed to $2.6 million) to $5 million, and provide a temporary supplement in a maximum of two payments to all eligible FHA recipients on payment between 1 September 2018 and 1 June 2019, inclusive.

Reasons for Urgency

Introduction and passage early in the 2018 Spring session of parliament is required for commencement of the bill on 1 September 2018.

On 1 August 2018, FHA was extended by one year, from three to four cumulative years (1,460 days), to support framers and their partners who are in financial hardship mainly due to the prolonged dry conditions across the eastern seaboard.

Building on the extension to FHA, a temporary increase to the net farm asset threshold will make income support more accessible to farm households. A Minister's Rule under the Farm Household Support Act 2014 will provide for the start date. Further, where applicants have net farm assets between $2.6 million and $5 million, their eligibility will be retained beyond 30 June 2019 if they remain on payment. If cancelled, any subsequent application they make will be subject to the relevant assets test at that time.

Feedback from farmers is that the current net farm asset threshold needs to be increased to allow more farm households in financial hardship to access income support. These farmers appear to be asset-rich, but have little or no cash flow, so are income poor.

The bill will also provide FHA recipients with a supplement per household, in addition to their FHA, paid in two tranches between 1 September 2018 and 1 June 2019. The new supplement is not restricted to those recipients experiencing drought; it is available to all farmers and their partners across Australia who are receiving FHA.

Couples in a household will receive up to an additional $6,000 each (split into two payments of $3,000), totalling $12,000 to the household, and single households will receive up to $7,200, split into two payments of $3,600. The supplement will also help local businesses during the tough times as FHA recipients spend their entitlement.

No farmer who lodges a claim for FHA on or before 1 December will be disadvantaged. Subject to being eligible for FHA they will be back paid their FHA allowance to the date of lodgement and will also receive the supplement. Also, if they receive any FHA during the second payment period (2 December to 1 June 2019) they will receive the supplement.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources)


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