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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

13 December 2005

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park structural adjustment package - extension of closing date for applications

The deadline for applications for assistance under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package will be extended to 30 April 2006, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Senator Campbell said the assistance package, designed to help businesses manage the impacts caused by rezoning in the Marine Park, was the most extensive of its kind implemented in Australia.

“We have spent about $50 million to date helping more than 500 fishermen and related businesses adjust to the rezoning under this package,” Senator Campbell said.

He said assistance was available to help businesses restructure in order to secure their long term viability, while exit assistance was also possible for those land-based businesses that had been rendered unviable by the flow-on effects of the rezoning.

“While it is now almost 18 months since the rezoning took effect, many businesses are still coming to grips with the impacts and industry leaders have advised the Australian Government that many businesses need more time to put together applications.

“Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the deadline for applications to now be lodged by 30 April 2006. The deadline for completed applications will be final, with no further extensions considered.”

Senator Campbell said some land-based businesses had struggled to demonstrate the impacts of the rezoning.

“While the Government believes it is appropriate to require applicants to clearly demonstrate the impacts of the rezoning, and to differentiate those impacts from other factors such as Queensland fisheries management changes and declaration of the coastal marine by the Beattie Government, we also recognise the need to work with businesses to make assistance accessible,” he said.

“Consequently, my Department has been developing a series of impact demonstration tools to help businesses such as those involved in the recreational fishing industry more readily identify rezoning impacts on them.

“The Government will also be providing additional resources to the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority to allow it to engage a field officer in each of Cairns, Townsville/Bowen and Bundaberg to work with businesses and their advisers on developing and lodging applications for assistance.”

Senator Campbell said there was some uncertainty given to business about the tax status of Full Business Restructuring Assistance grants paid under the structural adjustment package.

“The guidelines are clear: the restructuring assistance grants are taxable income,” he said.

“Tax liabilities will be offset to the extent that businesses can claim tax deductions for eligible expenditure made using the grants, such as on the purchase of depreciable assets.

“Many fishermen will also have access to the primary producer income tax averaging provisions.”

Senator Campbell encouraged all businesses to obtain good financial advice in making applications so they clearly understand the tax implications of receiving a grant and how they can manage it.

He said it was not possible for businesses to increase the amount of assistance they were seeking to take account of tax implications.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos on 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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