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Farmers welcome PM's pledge to rebuild flood-affected North Queensland 'station by station'
1 March 2019
National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson says further wide-ranging Government support for North Queensland cattle producers would be transformative to the recovery process for producers and their communities.
"Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently visited Townsville and surrounding areas and took in the devastation for himself.
"He witnessed the heartbreaking loss of animals and the destruction of the many, many years of dedication farming families had put into building their businesses and industry.
"Today, on his return to Townsville, the Prime Minister demonstrated that he had listened by taking action to meet the immediate and long term needs of farmers and their communities," Ms Simson said.
The Prime Minister's announcement includes low interest loans for the refinancing of existing debt as well as for restocking costs.
The Government has also asked major rural lenders not foreclose or force the sale of farmers for three years and to defer the interest and principle repayments of existing debt, where possible for three years.
The call to action to the banks includes a request for a commitment to continue to lend for herd rebuilding, drawing on security over livestock rather than the family home, with the support of Government grants.
Red tape and tax relief is also available with the Australian Taxation Office confirming the agency will defer due date tax payments and enlargements; remit interest and penalty charges on tax debts and fast track income tax and GST refunds for flood-affected taxpayers.
Ms Simson said the Prime Minister's commitment to helping North Queensland rebuild 'farm by farm, station by station' was particularly comforting.
"The task of rebuilding herds and infrastructure, such as fences, yards, roads and water infrastructure is immense. Without appropriate Government support and equitable consideration from lenders, the recovery for many would be overwhelming and in some cases impossible."
"We're very pleased that today's announcement also includes an expansion of telehealth (video conferencing) services for people in flood-affected areas.
"New special recovery grants of up to $50,000 for flood affected small businesses and not-for-profits is also good news."
Ms Simson said the establishment of the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency to manage the long-term plan for the region and industry was important.
"There is a mammoth job ahead. The NFF supports the appointment of Mr Shane Stone QC as the Chair of the Agency, and the person to coordinate the rebuild.
"We look forward to working with Mr Stone and continuing to work with the Prime Minister, the Agriculture Minister and our member AgForce, to ensure North Queensland's proud cattle industry and the people and communities behind it, are supported on the road to recovery," Ms Simson said.
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