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Wednesday, 9 October 1991
Page: 1615

Mr BRAITHWAITE(10.30 p.m.) —-I think I was addressing the argument of the diminishing property values of farms. At Charleville it was interesting to find that the lenders were now in a situation where they had security which was worth less than the value of the loan. This situation of course demands attention, and I imagine the Government should be looking at it initially. It needs to look at the situation in Australia at the moment, where there are $29 billion worth of non-performing loans, that is, loans where the interest is not being met. This compares with $27 billion, which is held in shareholders funds at the banks. Obviously, there is a need for realism as far as the lenders are concerned, and also a need to reduce the rates of interest. In this day and age when one can get interest on deposits of only about 9 or 10 per cent, we found that some people were being charged 18 per cent, with a penalty rate of 22 per cent. There is a desperate need to restructure those loans.

Another aspect concerns the fact that America's quotas for both beef and sugar have been reduced. Those industries, facing low prices on the world market, will have further problems. I am basically discussing this crisis and the fact that the farmers of Australia are the new rural poor. I believe the Government should be doing something in this connection. (Time expired)