Victoria Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Coalition Will Make Banks Mediate Before Recovering Farm Debt
Victor P Taffa
Financial institutions will be required to undergo farm debt mediation with food and fibre producers before they can initiate debt recovery proceedings under a Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh announced the Policy today at the campaign launch of The Nationals Member for Mildura Peter Crisp.
“In government the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition will legislate to ensure creditors undergo mediation before they can take possession of property or take other enforcement action under a farm mortgage.” Mr. Walsh said.
“Victoria’s farmers are among the best in the world but more than a decade of drought, coupled with the high cost of temporary water, has seen many farming families accumulate large debts through no fault of their own.”
“Many people are living with the ever-present fear of foreclosure as a result of these loans.”
“The extreme stress which many families are under has led to relationship breakdowns and the loss of many farms.”
“Under our plan, settlement by mediation will be voluntary for farmers and, while neither party will be forced into an agreement, it will aim for a resolution that is satisfactory for both parties.”
“Farmers will have greater security knowing that a creditor cannot suddenly repossess their property and that they will have an opportunity to discuss alternative solutions with the assistance of a neutral and independent mediator.”
Mr. Walsh said similar legislation already existed in New South Wales where at least 72 % of the time parties settled any dispute.
“A study into the effectiveness of the New South Wales program found that the majority of farmers and the overwhelming majority of lenders and representatives would use and recommend mediation again.” Mr. Walsh said.
“Mediation will be even more vital in light of the water cuts proposed by the Federal Labor Government in the draft of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.”
“The Murray Darling Basin Plan will make life even tougher for the state’s food and fibre producers and many people fear it will cause banks to rapidly foreclose on their farms.
“The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition will relieve the pressure on farming families to enable them to focus on what they do best, producing food for our state.” Mr. Walsh said.