Deputy PM wrong on farmer payment


DEPUTY Prime Minister Michael McCormack has wrongly claimed landholders who have exhausted the Farm Household Allowance are already receiving a $13,500 supplement.

The Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill has not yet passed the parliament, and any eligible farmer is unlikely to get the lump sum payment until later in the year, once the Bill passes the Senate and receives Royal Assent.

The stuff-up underscores that too many in Government are not across their brief on the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) changes, which were recently revealed by Scott Morrison.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a visit to Dalby last month. Picture: Adam Taylor/PMO
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a visit to Dalby last month. Picture: Adam Taylor/PMO

It comes as residents in drought-declared areas vent their frustrations over the belief they can already access the payment, which will be available once recipients have exhausted four years of taxpayer help.

Asked by Sky News about possible further assistance after the one-off payment, Mr McCormack said, "some farmers are receiving their first (lump-sum payment now).

"There's going to me more supplementary payments for farmers who have finished their Farm Household Allowance,'' Mr McCormack also said earlier in the interview.

The Bill's explanatory memorandum states:

 Increasing the maximum time a person is able to access the FHA program, from four years over their lifetime to four years in each specified 10-year period.

 Introducing a one-off lump sum payment for recipients who have exhausted 1460 days of FHA by 1 July 2020 and the capacity for the Minister's rules to prescribe further lump sum payments, if required.

It means the Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has the power to keep providing one-lump, supplementary payments if the drought continues.

Federal Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie (AAP Image/James Ross)
Federal Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie (AAP Image/James Ross)

Comment has been sought from Mr McCormack's office.

The Courier-Mail today revealed that big-spending, practical infrastructure projects that lure workers to town - and spark them to open their wallets - will be thrashed out in a meeting today as the Government moves to unveil its next drought package.

Any major announcement is not expected to be detailed until next week.

It is understood the submission to ERC contains a large number of drought proposals, some unlikely to have broad support by senior members of Cabinet.

More money is expected to be given to councils for projects that not only improve a town - like widening roads and putting down more bitumen, but also draws in cash from outside of the community, like workers drawn to the area for the project.

The Government views this as one way to encourage more money into communities that are languishing because of broke farmers.

It was revealed last week that Treasury had been asked to model a tax holiday/rebate for businesses that turn a profit, in a bid to help them keep on staff.

However, there has been some pushback internally to the proposal, with some in Government fearing it would open them up to zonal taxation, a proposition some in the Nationals have been advocating for, but generally dismissed by Liberals.