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Gisborne and Tolaga Bay flood package underway

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

31 October 2005 Media release

Gisborne and Tolaga Bay flood package underway

An immediate assistance package for farmers whose crops were ruined by the recent floods in the Gisborne and Tolaga bay, has been agreed to at Cabinet, Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton announced today.

"It is important to provide prompt support to those affected by the Gisborne and Tolaga Bay flooding, even though the damage is not as extensive as Cyclone Bola or the lower North Island flood event in February 2004.

"We must assist the region to maintain their confidence, optimism and security for the future, after this event.

"Cabinet has agreed to an 'early response' package that provides assistance with post-flood clean up operations through Enhanced Taskforce Green and income support via the Rural Assistance scheme. It also agreed to further investigation into extra support for farmers and horticulturalists who experienced significant flood damage.

"Furthermore, the government will consider funding a study to explore the appropriateness of establishing flood protection measures for Tolaga Bay," Jim Anderton said.

The Ministry of Social Development will establish Enhanced Taskforce Green projects to assist with clean up operations, funded by the Ministry of Social Development from within baseline, including (as only one part of the package) up to $150,000 in extra assistance for the roll out of these Enhanced Taskforce Green projects.

The Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Social Development and Employment have been jointly delegated responsibility to approve any appropriations required to fund Rural Assistance. This assistance is provided under section 124(1)(d) of the Social Security Act 1964 to farmers and horticulturalists whose income is affected by adverse events.

A more detailed report will be provided to cabinet within the next week, outlining specific information on the regional impact and scale of the damage arising from the flooding. That report will include advice on the range of options to provide targeted assistance.


Editors note

Enhanced Taskforce Green - extra assistance

MSD has calculated that, based on the latest flood damage estimates, up to $150,000 should be allocated from within Vote Social Development baselines for extra assistance. This will include:
o $70, 000 for sixteen Taskforce Green personnel (including two Supervisors) to assist with fence repairs, drain clearance and general clean-up duties for approximately ten weeks;
o $20,000 for the Gisborne District Council to assist with equipment and vehicle hireage; and
o $60,000 to cover contingencies and other unforeseen costs.

Rural Sector Assistance

The Rural Assistance provisions under the Special Needs Grant programme allow the Ministry of Social Development to provide financial assistance to cover essential living costs of farmers/horticulturalists affected by adverse events.

Weekly payments are set at 75 per cent of the applicable after tax rate of Unemployment Benefit. These payments are non-taxable. Eligibility for these payments is subject to an income and asset test, though assets associated with the farm business are not assessed. Assets unconnected with the land based industry are included in the assessment.

In recent times the rural sector assistance provisions have been activated for farmers in the Lower North Island and Bay of Plenty affected by flooding in 2004. The provisions are currently in force for beekeepers in the north island whose business has been affected by the Varroa Bee Mite.

The Minister of Finance, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Social Development and Employment have been delegated responsibility to jointly approve any appropriation required to provide rural sector assistance, if necessary.

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