The Liberal-National Government, the National Farmers Federation and banks will meet in Canberra today, marking the first meeting of the Drought Finance Taskforce designed to further support drought-affected farmers and small businesses.
The taskforce will consider and respond to drought-related finance issues impacting both farmers and small businesses in rural and regional communities.
Each rural and regional community is a mini economy and drought can have a big impact on cash flow within these mini economies. If farmers face financial challenges, their families are less likely to be spending money in town. Without money coming in, local small businesses may be faced with their own tough decisions, such as letting employees go. The cyclical effect is felt by communities as a whole.
Through the sharing of data and other information, the taskforce will seek to better understand the finance related challenges that have or may in the future impact drought-affected communities.
The taskforce’s focus will be on helping alleviate these finance challenges for both farmers and small businesses and keeping these mini economies going. The taskforce will seek to build upon the previously announced measures by the banks, including pausing repayments, waiving fees, reducing interest rates, restructuring loans, as well as prior government actions.
Members of the taskforce comprise:
- the Treasurer as Chair;
- the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources as Deputy Chair;
- Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP;
- Queensland regional Member of Parliament, the Hon Dr John McVeigh MP;
- National Farmers’ Federation President, Fiona Simson;
- ANZ Head of Agribusiness, Mark Bennett;
- Commonwealth Bank Regional and Agribusiness Banking Executive General Manager, Grant Cairns;
- National Australia Bank Chief Customer Officer for Business and Private Banking, Anthony Healy;
- Rabobank Chief Risk Officer, Mark Cox; and
- Westpac National General Manger of Agribusiness, Steve Hannan.
Minister for Small and Family Business and Vocational Education, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Coordinator-General for Drought, Major General Stephen Day, and representatives from the Australian Banking Association and the Customer Owned Banking Association will also attend the meeting. Initially, the taskforce will meet monthly.
The Drought Finance Taskforce and the Liberal-National Government’s support for farmers and rural and regional small businesses is part of our plan to keep the economy strong and keep Australians together.
Today’s meeting precedes tomorrow’s National Drought Summit, hosted by the Prime Minister and designed to unite our national efforts, deliver assistance, cut red tape and tackle gaps that need addressing.