Assistance packages largely untouched

29 Jul, 2011 04:00 AM
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PASTORALISTS affected by the Indonesian live cattle trade ban are avoiding taking up the handouts the Federal Government is doling out.

Of the $38 million on hand to support pastoralists and small businesses, just $717,000 has been claimed, according to Centrelink statistics.

As part of the assistance packages, pastoralists can receive up to $25,000 for damages as a result of the ban.

Lang Coppin, Yarrie station, said he hadn't applied for an assistance package yet but he was thinking about it and probably would in the future.

"I mean bugger it, we have been affected," Mr Coppin said.

"The thing is if this was a flood, fire or drought you would battle on with those things on your own but this one was man-made, or woman-made.

"And I thought bugger it, if they made the problem I don't think I am going to be too ashamed to apply.

"If we can get a bit of money because it has affected us I think we will have a look at it."

Mr Coppin said the Federal Government had a lot to answer for and pastoralists deserved to get some money because of the damage the ban on live cattle exports had caused.

Mr Coppin urged more pastoralists to apply for the payments.

"I think people should take it," he said.

"In a case like this we all don't want handouts, but if it is an issue which the Federal Government creates, I think they should pay the penalty.

"I don't think they should get off scot-free and I think people should take it."

He said he would like to see the maximum amount of $25,000 per pastoralist raised.

"It isn't much but I still think people should take it," he said.

"There are some people who if they don't take it are going to hit the wall.

"But $25,000 isn't even a drip feed and it probably needs to be raised."

Centrelink general manager Hank Jongen said the fastest way for people to apply for the assistance packages was to lodge their claim online, then supporting documentation could be posted or faxed to Centrelink.

A spokesperson for Minister Ludwig's office said the Minister has asked the department to work with Centrelink to make sure people who have been affected by the temporary suspension of the live export trade are aware of this support payment and where they meet eligibility test, can access it in a timely fashion.

The best thing this Government can do is build a sustainable industry into the future, the spokesperson said.

"The Government has acted to re-establish the trade on a sustainable and long term footing and is working closely with industry to get the trade back up and running.

"The measures announced by Government and industry are not compensation - it was short-term assistance while the trade was suspended and strict new conditions were established."

p More information about this assistance package is available on the Centrelink website (www.centrelink.gov.au) or by calling the Australian Government Assistance Line on 1800 808 869.

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