Candidate for Maranoa at coalface of nation’s rural crisis
Condamine farmer Rowell Walton has nominated for the seat of Maranoa in the coming election.
The Katter’s Australian Party past-president had been pushed to undertake the task by many, over several months, following more than a year’s work from the coalface of the nation’s rural debt crisis to the halls of Canberra.
Mr Walton said that after 12 months working with the Rural Finance Roundtable – which prompted the announcement in April of federal emergency relief funding of $420 million for concessional loans for farmers across Australia stricken by insurmountable debt – there was “unfinished business”.
“The $420m was never sufficient for the need, but better than a poke in the eye, which we were told to expect,” said Mr Walton.
“We now need to push on with a reconstruction board, which I have spoken about with both the Opposition Leader and now the Prime Minister.”
Mr Walton said legislation had already put by the KAP to the Australian Parliament to establish, within the Reserve Bank, a rural reconstruction and development board to take over bad debt and ensure the sustainability of Australian agriculture.
Mr Walton said rural debt in Australia stood at $66 billion and rising, with inescapable bad debt estimated at $5 billion. The reconstruction bank would enable farmers to make a profit whilst repaying their debts and stabilise rural communities while rural industries are readjusted.
Mr Walton conceded he faced a significant challenge in contesting the ‘safe’ seat, held by the incumbent with a primary vote of 67 per cent.
But he planned to campaign on the KAP’s record of polices and legislation crucial to the survival of rural communities such as Maranoa, such as laws for a two-year moratorium on coal seam gas; or foreign ownership of Australian agribusinesses and land – neither which has received major party support in the Parliament.
“So it seems to be a very difficult task to unseat the incumbent, but my phone has been running hot with people grizzling and we have agreed the voters of Maranoa should be given the choice,” concluded Mr Walton.
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