Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie says debt-stressed farmers are no closer to knowing if they’ll get help through concessional loans that the Labor Federal Government announced two months ago.
Senator McKenzie today asked Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig during Question Time why the loans are still not available, even though arrangements are in place for the government to pocket revenue from the program.
“Treasury officials during the recent Senate Budget estimates said the government is borrowing funds for these loans at around three per cent while farmers will pay 4.5 per cent interest. They admitted the 1.5 percentage point difference will go into consolidated revenue,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Minister not only ducked the question today, he refused to explain why he’s demanding state governments pay for the administration costs of providing these loans.
“The logical and decent thing to do is for the federal government to pay for the administration costs using the revenue it gets from interest on the loans.
Senator McKenzie said the states had been demanding the government do so and had also been calling for better consultation on the program.
‘’ If the minister is genuine in helping farmers access these loans, then he would cooperate with the states,’’ she said.
“He said today he wants to work with the states to find a way forward. Well minister, here is your chance.”
Senator McKenzie said no state had signed up to provide the loans.
“The federal Labor government has got itself to blame for yet again rushing in poorly planned policy to the detriment of our farmers,” she said.
“The fact that the Labor government seeks to make money from the plight of our farmers, many of whom are struggling because of its inept decisions, such as shutting down the live cattle export trade to Indonesia, is the lowest blow of all.”
Media Contact: Kathleen Tonini: 0400 530 027