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Bill successful despite Government opposition

May 19, 2016

 Hon David Ridgway MLC
State Liberal Leader in the Legislative Council
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Bill successful despite Government opposition

The Farm Debt Mediation Bill, introduced by Shadow Agriculture Minister David Ridgway, has successfully passed the Parliament’s Legislative Council with the support of the entire crossbench.
The Bill, which will now be debated in the Parliament’s House of Assembly, seeks to provide a mechanism for mandatory mediation between creditors and farmers before creditors can foreclose on a farming operation.
Following a recent increase to the NRM Levy, the Weatherill Government has again been criticised for neglecting regional South Australians after voting against the Bill.
“It is very disappointing that the Weatherill Labor Government is opposing this Bill when it has the support of the crossbench, farmers and key players in the banking industry,” said Shadow Agriculture Minister David Ridgway.
“This purpose of this Bill is to bring all parties to the table early to help get the best outcomes for our State’s farmers and their creditors.
“This Bill is modelled on the NSW and Victorian legislation which has been operating successfully in those respective jurisdictions since 1994 and 2011.”
The Labor Government is opposing this Bill on the basis that the current voluntary Farming Code, administered by the Small Business Commissioner, is working despite never having been used since its inception in 2013.
“It is absolutely laughable and nonsensical that the Weatherill Labor Government can assert their Farming Code is working when it has never been used,” said Mr Ridgway.
“The fact the Government’s Farming Code has never been responsible for a single mediation is, to me, evidence that a voluntary code isn’t working and a mandatory model is required.
According to the Small Business Commission’s 2014-15 Annual Report, it has ten mediators on its panel and only three mediations were conducted in 2014-15.
“It appears the Small Business Commission has ample mediation resources so I cannot understand the Government’s rationale for opposing this Bill,” said Mr Ridgway.



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