Kat­ter’s ru­ral bank

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Tobi Lof­tus tobi.lof­tus@cnbtimes.com.au

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).

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