Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter has secured confirmation of a veiled $141 million in cash which could be used for Queensland’s struggling agriculture industry.
During the estimates questioning Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne was pushed to certify that $300 million in equity and $141 million in cash is sitting idle on the balance sheet of the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority.
“These funds could be made available to assist debt and drought ridden regional Queensland by kick-starting the formation of a reconstruction and development board – something we have all been calling for,” Mr Katter said.
“This amount of money is almost three times the capital used by the State Government to initiate the Queensland Industry Development Corporation.”
“Given the current state of the nation, these funds need to be released for this practical solution which is extremely doable,” he said.
Mr Katter said the development of a reconstruction board (a KAP priority policy), is Queensland’s only real opportunity to rescue the agricultural sector.
“It’s clear the QRAA is placed to provide a reconstruction facility together with a funding body similar to the QIDC, and at last prevent the decline in so many communities,” Mr Katter said.
The proposed development board would provide farmers the opportunity to access realistic loans at a concessional rates.
The board is also enabled to negotiate suitable arrangements and offer farmers refinancing at interest rates lower than commercial lenders.
“It’s been a long held view of mine that Queensland will need to lead the nation away from the belief that the market will resolve all these issues,” Mr Katter said.
“I won’t wait to see our communities decline and in some places collapse – we must act now.”
“We have the opportunity to stabilise our state.”
“I urge the Government to move on this immediately.”