BARNABY Joyce has turned his attention to the big four banks to help farmers in drought.
The federal government protects banks against foreign competition and provides guarantees for bank deposits – all sureties that still aren’t afforded to drought-stricken farmers.
Asked if federal government assistance given to banks would be better directed to farmers in financial support and cutting red tape, Mr Joyce said it was an “issue worth considering”.
“Making sure at least the farmers are treated fairly,” he said.
“I’ve had discussions with the Prime Minister about precisely this [cutting drought assistance red tape] and have receive a commitment that we’re going to streamline it.
“I can’t do much more than that.”
The Drought Assistance Special Envoy, Mr Joyce welcomed the new Drought Finance Taskforce, aimed at drumming up support from big banks and leveraging resources to help farmers and small business.
The taskforce includes treasurer Josh Frydenberg, agriculture minister David Littleproud, Queensland MP John McVeigh and National Farmers Federation, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Rabobank and Westpac representatives.
Mr Joyce said privately-owned banks should get on board with helping farmers because the federal government helps the banks.
“What we must do here is make sure the major finance companies, the major banks, understand the realities of the drought – there is no cash,” he said.
“You can’t get blood out of a stone. The money is just not there.”