Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has called on the Federal Government to show some compassion and change the way it manages assistance payments to graziers impacted by last year’s ban on live cattle exports.
Mr Entsch said he had been contacted by a number of concerned constituents who have had their application for Business Assistance Payments (Immediate Assistance) through Centrelink rejected on the basis they failed to meet the September 30 deadline.
The many graziers who have contacted my office clearly qualify for the assistance payment, but through a range of extenuating circumstances have missed out on this much needed helping hand.
Mr Entsch has also received confirmation of the difficulties many graziers faced in applying for the assistance payments from Agforce and the Cattle Council of Queensland.
“I appreciate the rationale behind setting a deadline for such assistance payments but a range of factors, many beyond the control of the graziers, contributed to their applications being rejected,” Mr Entsch said.
“Centrelink staff who had little or no understanding of the live cattle industry provided misleading and confusing advice to graziers and many eligible people were told not to apply.
“Some graziers just accepted their own interpretation of the confusing application document online and assumed they didn’t qualify, and others accepted the advice of their accountants and stock agents that they were ineligible because the wording was so ambiguous.
“Many of those who missed out are small family operations that can least afford to carry these losses, and some of them were adversely affected by cyclone Yasi and local flooding.”
Mr Entsch has written to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joe Ludwig to call for additional time for those who had their applications rejected because of the deadline or confusion.
“These small producers and associated businesses had an extremely difficult year and I urge the Minister to consider reopening the process to allow the consideration of further applications,” Mr Entsch said.