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Regional Investment Corporation—Report for 2019-20—Correction

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Regional Investment Corporation Annual Repor t 2019/20 11

On 7 November 2019, through the Regional Investment Corporation (Small Business Drought Loans) Rule 2 020, the Australian Government announced a new loan available

to drought-affected small businesses that have a direct dependency on farmers through providing primary production-related goods and services to farm businesses in drought. The loans assist these small businesses to manage through the drought and remain viable until their customers begin to resume or increase production and seek their goods and services. This represented a shift from RIC ’ s original mandate to providing assistance outside farm business loans, along with a change to interest settings by providing a two-year interest-free period. This product became known as the AgBiz Drought Loan and was launched on 20 January 2020. At the end of the financial year we had provided $3.6 million in AgBiz Drought Loan assistance.

As part of the 7 November 2019 announcement, the Australian Government announced a two-year interest-free period for RIC’s existing Drought Loan product, to maximise support to farmers as the drought tightened its grip on the Australian agricultural sector. The Regional Investment Corporation Operating Mandate Amendment (Drought Loans - Interest-free Period) Direction was made to amend the RIC’s Operating Mandate to include a two-year interest-free period for new and existing drought loans, forming part of the Government’s 2019 election commitment.

In January 2020, the Australian Government announced an extension to the Drought loans program (Regional Investment Corporation (Drought Loans Expansion) Rule 2020) to expand eligibility criteria so that all Australian farm businesses could access drought loans regardless of their location, either located within an affected area as defined in the Deser

tification Convention, or located outside this area.

With the raft of changes to our Farm Business loan products during the reporting period, demand began to increase from November 2 019. For example, our monthly application

intake went from 53 in October 2019, to 91 in November, and 212 in December. Monthly applications climbed as a result peaking at around 300 applications per month. Bearing in mind that the RIC’s staffing and systems were established with a forecast of approximately 3

00 applications per year, the spike in demand was followed by a slowing of our processing timeframes.

Improvement initiatives In recognising the impact of longer loan processing timeframes on our farm business loan customers, the RIC began implementing process improvement initiatives that were achievable within its funding allocation in early 2020. Initiatives included shortening application forms, recruiting additional vetting and assessment staff, redeployment of staff functions to assessment and vetting, working closely with the banks on standard operating procedures and changes to internal processes that reduced timeframes. Improving loan processing timeframes became our key activity during the remainder of the reporting period, underpinned progress towards our Strengthen Delivery of our Functions Corporate Plan objective and will become a critical performance focus in our 2020-21 Corporate Plan.

Stakeholder engagement 2019-20 saw the RIC make progress with its Build Awareness and Improve Products Corporate Plan objectives.

Regional Investment Corporation 2019-20 Annual Report - replacement page 11

Assistance Program including a number of new health and wellbeing resources being offered as part of that service.

• Creation of the COVID‐19 response team and the associated initiatives and promotions co‐ordinated by that team, which resulted in a strong compliance across the RIC for COVID‐19 related restrictions and protocols. • A number of WHS‐oriented training courses were attended during the period.

Advertising and market research

Section 3 11A o f the C ommonwealth E lectoral Act 1 918 r equires A ustralian Government d epartments and a gencies to s et out i n t heir a nnual r eports d etails of a mounts g reater than $ 13,800 ( inclusive o f G ST) p aid b y o r o n b ehalf of them during t he y ear t o a dvertising agencies, m arket r esearch o rganisations, p olling organisations, d irect m ail o rganisations and m edia a dvertising organisations.

During 2 019‐20, the R IC conducted m arket r esearch t o u nderstand c ustomer experience and s atisfaction a nd e ngaged a dvertising s ervices t o c ommunicate key m essages f or loan p rograms a nd g enerate a wareness.

The a mounts t hat t he RIC p aid to m edia and a dvertising o rganisations i n 2 019‐20 are a s follows.  

Organisation Purpose Amount

Isentia Pty Ltd (Media Monitors) Media monitoring services $25,210.90

News Pty Ltd National advertising loan

program key benefits and updates


3 Annual performance statements 3.1 Statement of p reparation   On b ehalf o f the RIC Board, I p resent the RIC’s 2 019‐20 annual p erformance statements a s required u nder t he Public G overnance, P erformance a nd Accountability A ct 2 013 (Cth) (PGPA A ct) ( paragraph 3 9(1)(b)) and section 1 6F o f the Public Governance P erformance a nd A ccountability Rule 2 014.

In the B oard’s opinion, a t the d ate of this statement, b ased o n the m aterial provided to the Board, these annual p erformance s tatements a ccurately r eflect the p erformance o f the e ntity, a nd c omply w ith subsection 3 9(2) o f the P GPA Act.

Karen S mith‐Pomeroy Chair o f the B oard

Regional  Investment  Corporation Annual Report 2019/20 19 

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