Katter’s rural bank
KATTER Australian Party MP Robbie Katter introduced a bill to State Parliament last week calling for the introduction of an authority to stabilise the agriculture industry.
The Rural and Regional Adjustment (Development assistance) Amendment Bill 2016 will, if passed, establish a concessional lending facility which Mr Katter said would be more effective than the existing drought concessional loans.
“We already support the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which plays a similar role for the renewable industry; if the public thinks that it is important that we... stimulate that industry, why not do the same for agriculture,” Mr Katter said.
“When you are looking at trying to fix this industry the biggest problem is rural debt, the focus should be to provide structural change and a pathway to put this industry back on its feet.
“We aim to create an alternate lending instrument that may operate like a bank but takes viable customers that don’t fit the banks’ criteria.”
Mr Katter said the bill came out of recommendations from a bipartisan taskforce into rural debt.
North Burnett cattle farmer Anthony Coates said Katter’s idea had some merit to it.
“You can’t borrow your way out of debt, but there has got to be ways and means for easily accessible concessional loans to see a lot of producers overcome (drought),” Mr Coates said.
“I know farmers choose their way of life, when things are good they’re really good, but when they’re bad they’re really bad.
“When a government can help in evening out the bumps... it’s got to be a help.”
Mr Katter said his proposal was not a new one and similar models had operated twice in the past in Queensland.
“One of the mechanisms used previously was the QIDC; it was sold for over billion dollars, a benefit to the taxpayers,” Mr Katter said.
“These sorts of vehicles can be of benefit, while in the meantime, you are enabling industries.”
The bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Finance and Administration Committee for consideration.
Anthony Coates: You can’t borrow your way out of debt, but there has got to be ways and means for easily accessible concessional loans to see a lot of producers overcome (drought).