Senator Canavan today supported the announcement of a rural debt roundtable yesterday by the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce.
"The rural industry in Queensland has lived through a financial natural disaster in the last 5 years. Land values have fallen by up to 40 per cent.
"If that happened in any suburb in Australia there would be absolute carnage. The fact that we still have a beef industry after this is a testament to the resilience and efficiency of our beef sector.
"But we do have a legacy of too much debt now because of these difficult years. This must be sorted out before the northern beef industry can get back on its feet. Rain will help grow pastures and lift prices but it won't wash away the debt.
"The government has an obligation to help sort this out because it was the government's decision to close the live cattle trade in 2011 that caused so much devastation in northern Australia. Prices for beef fell by 20 per cent after that decision.
"The financial sector should also cooperate in the roundtable process. It is very concerning to hear that some banks are refusing to let farmers use government concessional drought loans to pay back debt.
"We can fix this problem a lot easier if we all work together rather than work apart."
Thursday 21 August 2014
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