Media Release: Farm Debt Mediation Bill Passes in the Lower House

21 Jun 2018 media release

Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis MP today was pleased to speak in Parliament in support of the Farm Debt Mediation Bill 2018, which passed through the House of Assembly with bi-partisan support (despite Labor refusing to support a similar Bill when it was in office).

Currently, South Australian farmers have no mandatory farm debt mediation process, meaning a farming operation can be forcibly foreclosed by a bank without any form of negotiation.

The Bill, now to be passed through the Legislative Council, will provide protection and financial security for farmers, requiring financial institutions to provide a farmer holding a farm mortgage with 21 days’ notice prior to commencing action to foreclose on a farm mortgage. The notice must also inform the farmer of the option for Farm Debt Mediation.

Quotes from Fraser:

“Farmers have been ignored for too long in South Australia, and the new government is taking steps to support farmers to recognise the immense contribution they make to the state economy.

“Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland already have compulsory farm debt mediation and, like so many examples that can be found in South Australia, it’s time we caught up to the rest of the country.

“Farmers are at the mercy of a number of uncontrollable variables; climate, equipment reliability and so on, and often it is beyond their control if something puts them in a tricky spot.

“This can often lead to increased susceptibility to mental illness in famers, and above average suicide rates, because when banks foreclose of farms they take away home and business.

“This law will give farmers increased peace of mind that they will have the opportunity to work things out with their lender, and all the evidence from interstate suggests it is an invaluable service with agreements reached in 95% of cases.”

If established, the Small Business Commissioner will be responsible for the management and administration of the new South Australian farm debt medication scheme.

The new Liberal Government has just completed its first five Parliament sitting weeks, and has achieved much, including moving to cap council rates, cut payroll tax and reduce the Emergency Services Levy.

Mr Ellis has been pleased to have had the opportunity to present reply speeches to many of the Government Bills introduced which have included the South Australian Productivity Commission Bill, the Supply Bill, Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill, Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill, the Electoral (Prisoner Voting) Amendment Bill, and today’s Farm Mediation Bill.