Response to Queensland Country Life Media Inquiry: Rural Debt Surveys

1 July 2014

Senator Barry O’Sullivan said a full Federal Senate Inquiry into rural debt structures and agribusiness banking lending practices across Australia may be necessary if the banking sector continued to refuse to participate in the proposed rural debt surveys.

“It is in the best interests of the banks to assist in the attempts by State Governments to undertake these rural debt surveys,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“This should serve as a warning to the banks because, ultimately, the final recommendations from any Federal Senate Inquiry may not be beneficial to the banking sector. Such an inquiry might produce consequences for rural lenders that do not benefit their businesses.

“Current attempts to assist drought and debt stricken farmers are currently having mixed results. I have repeatedly warned that the ability to deliver effective public policy is being hampered because the banks are refusing to assist government collect the necessary data to gain an accurate picture of the current debt loads across the agriculture sector, especially in Northern and Western Queensland, where farmers are dying a death by 1000 cuts.

“The banks could do themselves a massive favour by acting as responsible corporate citizens and agreeing to support the rural debt survey process.”