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Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Page: 6811

Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (16:23): Continuing with my speech: the Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill (No. 2) 2019 requires financial institutions to adhere to additional conditions when making loans of up to $5 million to small primary production businesses. The small primary production businesses are predominantly family run and operate in perfectly competitive markets which are highly responsive to market fluctuations, weather and exchange rate movements largely outside the control of the business. Small primary production businesses ordinarily expect to make profits over a multiyear cycle rather than in each and every season, and their ability to pay creditors or reduce their debt level is grounded in these profit cycles. Operating under such variable conditions places small primary production businesses at a distinct disadvantage in managing their credit arrangements with financial institutions and warrants additional conditions to level the playing field.

I therefore urge the government to consider the measures that are contained in my rural finance bill when considering the merits of this bill, because our Australian farmers do not want a handout. Australian farmers need, want and deserve the right and the support to either pursue a new venture or establish a viable, resilient and sustainable farm for generations to come. If the government refuse to minimise Australia's contribution to climate change then they can at least minimise its impact by helping our farmers who are enduring the current hot and dry conditions, and prepare their farming operations for more to come.

I'm pleased that the state and federal governments are beginning to take small steps towards recognising that the fate of our farmers is extremely linked to climate change. During the Agriculture Ministers Forum, held in October this year, agriculture ministers endorsed a national climate change work program to assist farmers to meet the challenges of climate change. The program will focus on four priorities:

Delivering information and tools to improve on-farm decisions and risk management

Driving research and innovation to support adaptation and mitigation technology

Strengthening market opportunities and farming business models to build resilience

Preparing for increasing biosecurity risks as the risk of pests, diseases and weeds changes

The national climate change work program will be overseen by the Climate Change Task Group. It's unclear how members of this task group will be selected, or even when the program work will commence; however, I urge the government to attend to this as a matter of urgency. In conclusion, I commend this bill to the House.