Com­mis­sion must ex­plore ru­ral is­sue

Central Queensland News - - RURAL WEEKLY - Natalie Kot­sios news@ru­ral­weekly.com

A ROYAL Com­mis­sion into the banks must specif­i­cally ex­plore is­sues faced in the ru­ral and farm­ing sec­tor if it’s to be worth­while, the Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion says.

An­nounce­ment of the $75 mil­lion Royal Com­mis­sion was met with scep­ti­cism from farmer groups, who want firm com­mit­ments that any out­comes from the pricey in­quiry will be adopted.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son an­nounced the Royal Com­mis­sion, fol­low­ing a re­quest from the big four banks and po­lit­i­cal pres­sure from the Na­tion­als.

The com­mis­sion will re­port back by Fe­bru­ary 2019, on wide-rang­ing terms of ref­er­ence — which at this stage do not ex­plic­itly re­fer to the farm­ing and ru­ral sec­tor.

NFF chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Ma­har said those ref­er­ences must be in­cluded, not­ing con­cerns about the bank­ing sec­tor and its deal­ings with farm­ers had been raised for many years and had been sub­ject to nu­mer­ous in­quiries and in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Given the scope of the Royal Com­mis­sion and how big it is, how ex­ten­sive and how long, it would be re­miss if agri­cul­ture isn’t in­cluded some­where in the terms of ref­er­ence,” he said.

“Of course it isn’t just about agri­cul­ture, but we want to make sure is­sues re­lat­ing to farm­ing and agri­cul­ture are iden­ti­fied and re­ported on.”

Mr Ma­har said while the Royal Com­mis­sion was wel­come, it was “ret­ro­spec­tive” and needed to be about “what needs to change” in the fu­ture.

“It (the in­quiry) is quite a sig­nif­i­cant un­der­tak­ing so if it’s go­ing to be done the out­comes are re­ally im­por­tant,” Mr Ma­har said.

“We just want to make sure we get some re­sults... let’s make sure we look for­ward and ad­dress the is­sues iden­ti­fied be­cause it’s im­por­tant agri­cul­ture has ac­cess to in­vest­ment, fi­nances and business struc­tures that al­low us to grow.”

PHOTO: LUKAS COCH

BIG CALL: Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has called a Royal Com­mis­sion into bank­ing.

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