Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Western Australia plays key role in drought reform breakthrough

    15/04/2005 12:00 AM

    The Western Australian Government has again played a key role in progressing reform of national drought relief arrangements.

    All States and the Commonwealth yesterday agreed on a set of principles to deliver an improved and fairer State/Commonwealth assistance scheme.

    The major factors in achieving consensus were the States' agreement to consider new funding arrangements and the Commonwealth's agreement to consider formally recognising separate State drought assistance provided outside the current Exceptional Circumstances (EC) scheme.

    Last November WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance presented a detailed proposal to the States and Commonwealth aimed at breaking the long-standing impasse over future funding arrangements.

    "Our proposal included a provision for 50/50 funding of EC business support measures, as sought by the Commonwealth, within a single, co-ordinated system rather than separate State/Commonwealth and State only packages,” Mr Chance said.

    "This would ensure one, uniform approach from both levels of government and mean that farmers would only have to apply once for assistance.

    "I am pleased to say that key elements of our proposal formed the basis for agreement at yesterday's meeting and will help pave the way to achieving our long-held aim of a simpler and fairer approach to this complicated issue."

    The Minister said the other States were able to compromise because the Commonwealth agreed to formally acknowledge within its future 50/50 funding proposition some of the separate drought assistance the States provide outside the EC scheme.

    "This was also the point we made last November, when we stated that for our proposal to work the separate State assistance needed to be formally recognised within the 50/50 proposition,” he said.

    "The other element to our proposal is to limit the State's exposure in such an arrangement by capping the State's contribution in any one drought event, as recognition of the fact that a State's treasury capacity has tighter limits than that of the Commonwealth.

    "In WA's case, we have proposed a cap of $20million for 50/50 funding with the Commonwealth Government fully funding anything above this amount. The amount of the cap would vary for each State."

    Mr Chance said he would continue to push for WA’s proposals to be used as the basis for national reform.

    He said the Gallop Government would continue to put WA first.

    The Minister also welcomed the progress made yesterday on further development of a computerised National Monitoring System to streamline EC declarations.

    "The new system has been developed with invaluable assistance from the WA Department of Agriculture and yesterday's agreed funding allocation between the States and Commonwealth of $700,000 will help to bring the system on-line," he said.

    Minister's Office - 9213 6700