A new legislation is being introduced to require mandatory farm debt mediation that will support farmers and provide them with improved protection and financial security.
The bill, Farm Debt Mediation Bill 2018, was introduced to State Parliament last week and will enforce a mandatory mediation process, administered by the Small Business Commissioner of South Australia before a creditor is able to foreclose a farming operation.
The process is currently being successfully operated in New South Wales, Victoria and Queens and the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone says they believe that South Australians should be afforded the same protections as their eastern counterparts.
“This legislation will ensure South Australia’s farmers are given every opportunity to resolve financial problems, giving them a fair opportunity to present and discuss their case with an independent mediator”, the Minister said.
“Farming can be an unpredictable and challenging industry, leaving farming families and their assets vulnerable in times of financial crisis.”
The introduction of the bill will see a change of the current rules which allows a South Australian farming operation to be forcibly foreclosed on without any form of negotiation, and it is that aspect which the Minister says can leave small family businesses vulnerable.
“A prosperous agriculture sector is vital to the State’s future with our food and wine sector generating $20 billion in revenue.”
The introduction of the bill will be completed in the Marshall Government’s first 100 days, delivering on an election commitment to support South Australian farmers.
“This policy commitment is based on a Private Member’s Bill passed through the Legislative Council in the previous Parliament.”
“Further empowering the Small Business Commissioner is one more way the Marshall Liberal Government is strengthening business confidence.”