Farm Debt Mediation

If elected in 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will introduce the Farm Debt Mediation Bill into Parliament and implement a mandatory mediation process to be administered by the Small Business Commissioner of South Australia.

Farm Debt Mediation

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

At a time when South Australia’s manufacturing industry is slowing down and the mining sector has stalled in the face of falling global commodity prices - our primary industries sector is more important than ever.

The agriculture industry has not only been the backbone of South Australia’s economy since settlement in 1836, but will also continue to be imperative to our state’s future economic prosperity.

However, harsh climate conditions, damaging weather events and unpredictable commodity prices make farming a volatile industry which can leave farming families and their assets in financial crisis. In recent times South Australia’s farmers have been hit by severe storms, flood events and of course, drought.

We believe that our farmers, through a mandatory mediation process, should be given the opportunity to present their case to an independent mediator to facilitate a favourable outcome for all parties involved.

In 2013 the Farming Industry Dispute Resolution Code was introduced under the Fair Trading Act 1987 to be implemented by the Small Business Commissioner of South Australia. Although this code is in existence, it has never been used since its inception which means it is unequivocally failing to protect our farmers.

Similar legislation has been operating successfully in New South Wales and Victoria since 1994 and 2011 respectively, however South Australian farmers continue to be denied these same protections.

With a mandatory mediation process in place farmers will be given a better chance of overcoming financial difficulties.

The State Liberals Plan

If elected in 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will introduce the Farm Debt Mediation Bill into Parliament and implement a mandatory mediation process to be administered by the Small Business Commissioner of South Australia.

This proposed legislation will provide protection and financial security for farmers by enforcing a mandatory mediation process before a creditor is able to foreclose on a farming operation.

This will put South Australia’s farmers on a level playing field with their east coast counterparts and ensure that our farmers have a model in place which they can rely upon in difficult times.

Mediation is a structured process in which the mediator, as a neutral and independent person, assists the primary producer and the creditor in attempting to reach an agreement on the present arrangements and future conduct of financial relations between them.

Similar legislation has been in place in New South Wales and Victoria since 1994 and 2011 respectively and has resulted in overwhelming positive outcomes for farmers. This legislation has the uniform support of the banks, the financial services industry and the primary industries sector.

A mandatory mediation model will help relieve the emotional and mental stresses associated with a foreclosure at what is understandably an extremely difficult time and ensure our farmers are given a fair go.

As outlined in our manifesto 2036, the South Australian Liberal Party is committed to unlocking the resources and production of our regional areas and ensuring growth opportunities for regional businesses and industries.

It is expected that the world’s population will continue to increase and with that, the demand for food. South Australia is well positioned to capitalise on this growing demand as we have a competitive advantage across many primary industry sectors.

This legislation will help ensure South Australia’s farmers are given every opportunity to succeed, meet this growing demand and grow our economy, jobs and exports.

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