The unscrupulous lending practices of banks are in the sights of KAP Leader and Federal Leader for Kennedy Bob Katter, who today introduced the Credit Repayment (Protecting Vulnerable Borrowers) Bill 2015 into Federal Parliament, which seeks to prevent “fire sales” of rural and residential properties by giving borrowers in default a two year period to sell their properties.
The bill applies to all property over $150,000 in value which is either rural, residential or owner/occupier in nature. The Bill also prevents confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements between banks and borrowers, the latter of which Mr Katter said are often left at the mercy of powerful banks.
“Financial institutions have historically exercised untrammelled and unrestrained powers by their superior bargaining position when dealing with people in default of their loans,” Mr Katter said.
“And there would be few people in Australia, let alone in this Parliament, who would not be aware of what is taking place in rural Australia.
“When I say ‘rural Australia’, there are 4,500 empty houses in Mackay, and between Dysart, Moranbah and Charters Towers there are another thousand empty houses.
“So there will be foreclosures—to quote the Bard—’hell, west and crooked’.”
Mr Katter cited sources in the agricultural industry on forced bank sales, saying that with only two months to sell a farmer would be lucky to get 40% of market value for their property, but with two years to sell a farmer could expect to obtain 80% of market value.
“Do you think it’s conscionable to go out and flog a bloke’s property out from underneath him on the basis of six weeks notice?
“Giving him no say in the sale whatsoever and leaving him completely destroyed financially?
“If that is not unconscionable conduct, I do not know what is,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter also attacked confidentiality clauses imposed by banks as well as the failure of Parliament to act.
“These people are not allowed to speak, they are forced by the bank to sign a document saying, ‘I won’t say anything to anyone about this.’
“And this Parliament seems not to be interested in this issue, this place has done absolutely nothing to help us.
“It seems only to be Independents who react to the pain of the people out there.
“But do you think the people of Australia are interested? Well, David Pascoe’s letter on Charlie Phillott got 3½ million hits on Facebook, so people are definitely interested,” Mr Katter said.