Australia

Federal government moves to cut red tape linked to drought support payments

Orchard owner Dino Rizzato kneels in a dried up dam outside the drought-ravaged town of Stanthorpe, 180 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. Source: AAP

Farmers will no longer run the risk of owing the government money because of drought support overpayments, under changes introduced to federal parliament.

Farmers will no longer risk accruing federal government debts from welfare overpayments as the coalition moves to simplify the approval criteria.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has introduced the underpinning legislation to parliament, which will see the farm household support payment paid based on current income rather than an estimate.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
AAP

"Predicting income is difficult. Farmers have told us that loud and clear," he said on Thursday.

Under current arrangements, farmers receive a rate of payment based on an estimate they make 12 months in advance.

The government then cross-checks that with tax office data and either have to pay farmers more, or farmers owe the government money.

The draft legislation would also give farmers longer to undertake a farm financial assessment after receiving a notice from Services Australia, by removing the 28-day time limit.

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