Thursday 17th October 2013
Katter calls for rural Board solution to $66b farm debt
The Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter today called for a joint Federal-State investigation into creating a Development and Reconstruction Board as a safety net for Queenslands drought-stricken farmers.
He asked the Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh in Parliament would he work with the Federal Government for the Board to act as a safety net for this struggling industry.
That co-operation between Minister McVeigh, and new federal Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, is critical to the creation of the Board and to the future of the $4.5 billion beef industry (combined gross value beef production and processing).
Mr Katter said a Bill to establish a rural reconstruction and development board within the Reserve Bank to take over bad debt and bail out struggling Australian farmers was introduced by Bob Katter in Federal Parliament in June.
The laws are contingent on the commercial banks writing off up to half of existing debt for which half that value becomes a tax concession enabling the ARDB to buy the (graziers) bad debt at the discounted value and offer farmers refinancing at interest rates lower than commercial lenders.
Katter said the ARDB helped banks and farmers, and would make money for taxpayers.
Under this arrangement, the banks offload the bad debt and have a reduced loss. They offload the troublesome client, get a 5 per cent better outcome, and they dont have to foreclose, he said.
Rural Finance Roundtable working group chairman Rowell Walton dubbed the legislation a simple way to solve a problem.
Mr Walton said rural debt in Australia stood at $66 billion and rising.
Debt has got out of hand and needs to be reconstructed to a long-term profitable and sustainable level that matches business capacity, he said.
Mr Katter said the ARDB solidified long-term sustainability in Australian agriculture and protected hundreds of years of knowledge built by our nations food-producing men and women.