Commission must explore rural issue
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.”
BIG CALL: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called a Royal Commission into banking.