Winton drought meeting unanimously rejects Barnaby Joyce’s government loan offer

Bob Katter, KAP Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth, Alan Jones and Robbie Katter tell the Liberal and National Parties they have had enough!

Bob Katter - Shane Knuth - Alan Jones - Rob Katter

KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said the ‘The Last Stand in Winton’ – the Rural Debt Crisis Summit was unanimous in its determination to seek a reconstruction debt approach to farm debt.

Approximately 400 people including leading economists, politicians, Government Ministers and farmers from around Australia attended the Summit called by the State Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter.

Radio Presenter Alan Jones was the guest speaker who promised he would be delivering the message from the bush to the people in the cities and the politicians in Canberra and the capital cities.

Mr Jones received a rousing standing ovation from the audience who he told to ‘put their shoulders square and fight’.

“Farm debt has exploded in nine years from $31,000 million to over $64,000 million last year,” Mr Katter said.

“To reconstruct the bad end of that debt is achievable by Government and they need to move in immediately in a situation where the banks are foreclosing at a rate of 10 properties per week.

“Banks do not just foreclose, they’re using duress and even mis-representation to get people to agree to terms without putting them into receivership.”

Mr Katter said the meeting unanimously rejected the Government’s offer of more debt by way of concessional loans.

The meeting also called for a moratorium on all bank foreclosures until the drought ends.

Farmers spoke from the floor to give heart-breaking accounts of their farms being sold up after generations on the land.

A Winton Rural Crisis Committee will now be established to take forward the outcomes of the meeting.

The resolutions agreed to at the meeting are:

Drought and other natural disasters

1) That the current Drought Assistance approach is a failure and this approach is rejected outright as manifestly inadequate;

2) That the meeting calls on the Council of Australian Governments to convene an inclusive working group (within a month) to develop a new approach to drought and other periods of natural disaster consistent with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture framework;

3) That the new approach support stressed agricultural businesses by providing:

  • Prompt direct funding assistance Simple conditions of access
  • Low interest loans
  • Greater certainty as to the availability of assistance
  • A form similar to the previous QRAA model, and
  • Other features arising from subsequent industry deliberations;

4) That governments increase the number of Rural Financial Counselling and other support services in the state of Qld and place them appropriately around the state.

Industry Repositioning

5) That Australian farmer incomes and profitability be made central to government policies, including in a reworking of the inadequate Agriculture Green Paper;

6) That the Senate Economics Legislation Committee proceed in its enquiry into the Reserve Bank of Australia Amendment (ARDB) Bill as a matter of urgency;

7) That the Federal Government commit to the provision of finance to fund the reconstruction and development of Australian Industry with urgent attention to rural industries and infrastructure;

8) That the State government provide affordable Risk Mitigation Insurance to give effective cover against natural disasters.

Economy

9) That interest rates are excessive and incompatible with sustainable production, industry profitability and international competitiveness. The Federal Government to work towards reducing interest rates;

10) That the Australian dollar is un-competitively high and calls on the federal government and the Reserve Bank to put in place methods to compensate Australian industries and reduce the dollar.

Moratorium

11) That governments and banks immediately enact a moratorium on forced farm sales until effective action is taken on the resolutions above.

Representation

12) That the meeting supports the Winton/Western Rural Crisis Committee in its efforts to advance these issues and relevant other issues subsequently raised with appropriate industry and government representatives and agencies.

Katter Media Release

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