Joe Hockey
Joe Hockey

Businesses ruled out of natural disaster fund benefits

A FUND aimed to be used to help recover from natural disasters, will not be used to bail out rural businesses, Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Thursday.

After Mr Hockey this week agreed to a new parliamentary committee to investigate the creation of the Australia Fund, he all but ruled out using it for industry assistance.

The fund, a condition of Clive Palmer's acceptance of the mining tax repeal bills, was a crossbench-backed initiative, in an effort to improve funding arrangements for disaster recovery.

But Mr Palmer has also said he hoped it could be used for loans to rural businesses and helping them recover, despite owning businesses which could be applicable.

Labor on Thursday labelled it a conflict of interest, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saying it was little more than a "piggy bank", despite recent Opposition efforts to appeal to regional voters through its "country caucus".

But Mr Hockey responded in Question Time on Thursday saying that industries should not be reliant on taxpayers' support.

Mr Palmer on Friday said the fund, despite what he called the media "twisting my words", would only be used to provide "quicker and more effective natural disaster relief".

The businessman and politician also pledged that at no time would he seek support for his businesses from the fund. - APN NEWSDESK



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