They just haven't considered the farmers. They have only thought about the city.James Finnigan
A GRAZIER says the federal government's HomeBuilder scheme has targeted city homeowners and disadvantaged farmers.
Woolsthorpe farmer James Finnigan saw an opportunity to renovate his "modest" weatherboard three-bedroom home when the federal government announced $25,000 grants to help stimulate the coronavirus-hit economy.
But after inquiries with Victoria's State Revenue Office Mr Finnigan discovered he is not eligible for the grant because the property, including 210 hectares of farmland, exceeds the grant's maximum property value of $1.5 million.
"I am not the super rich trying to add an extra bedroom to my seven-bedroom mansion. My house is very modest," Mr Finnigan said.
"No one else other than a farmer has their business included against the value of their house. Simpy because I am a farmer they say 'this is the rule, go away,' which isn't fair."
To be eligible for the scheme a property owner must spend a minimum of $150,000 on renovations, which Mr Finnigan said he had planned to by extending the lounge room, adding a bedroom and ensuite, among other changes.
In an email from the State Revenue Office to Mr Finnigan seen by The Standard, the office said it was "unable to apportion a value for the residence without the farmland".
Mr Finnigan, whose property is a WWII soldier settlement farm, took issue that a Warrnambool property owner could also own a city business and be eligible for the grant while a farmer who could not separate a business from a house was excluded.
"This is about someone with a $1.5 million home, this is not about somebody who owns a farm. They are meant to be excluding people in mansions, but they are adding my business to my home. And they are not the same," he said.
"They just haven't considered the farmers. They have only thought about the city."
Mr Finnigan said he believed the scheme had been "rushed" but exceptions could still be made for farmers in retrospect.
"There should be a provision where I can get a surveyor to come look at my house and gardens and say hey, that's worth $200,000," he said.
"In rural areas if farmers are excluded from the scheme then this money isn't going to find its way to rural builders, it will find its way to the suburbs of Melbourne. It won't find its way to the builders, apprentices and hardware shops here."
Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the HomeBuilder eligibility parameters were specifically targeted to ensure it is an effective catalyst to spark construction activity in the second half of 2020 to protect tradies jobs.
"It is up to individual state and territories to determine the valuation of a property for its eligibility to receive a HomeBuilder grant," Mr Sukkar said.
"To ensure timely delivery of support to the construction industry, many of HomeBuilder's eligibility requirements have been designed to complement existing state and territory first home owner grant programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes."
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