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Wednesday, 9 October 1985
Page: 927

Senator PETER RAE(5.29) —In support of what Senator Boswell has said I wish to draw attention to the annual report of the Primary Industry Bank of Australia and the extraordinary and continuing nature of that bank's operations. That bank is still obtaining Commonwealth assistance. We find on page 6 of the report:

This additional charge brought the effective interest rate on Commonwealth loans for the 1984-85 year to 7.9 per cent per annum.

That is a very significant part of the bank's borrowing. There are other figures which show that the bank has made a modest profit but that it has done so by charging interest rates which are higher than almost any other in the market. That is certainly not what one would expect even for long term loans secured on rural property. For instance, as I understand it, under $100,000 attracts interest at 16 1/2 per cent and over $100,000 attracts interest at 19 per cent. Those are incredibly high interest rates for anybody in the rural sector to pay. At some stage I would like to hear the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) give us an answer as to why the Primary Industry Bank of Australia is not yet able to operate on a basis where the interest rates charged are a little closer to those prevailing with the normal trading banks of Australia.

The other point I would like to raise is the question of superannuation. There does not appear to be any detail of any superannuation in the profit and loss account or in the explanatory notes. Because Commonwealth superannuation has been such a problem, we should get an explanation as to whether the Government is a party to that or not. If it is, what is the situation concerning reserves or employers' liability indebtedness?

Question resolved in the affirmative.