New laws force compulsory mediation before rural foreclosures

Banks will not be able to foreclose on Queensland farming properties without offering mediation from July 1.

The Palaszczuk Government’s Farm Business Debt Mediation Bill 2016, passed in Parliament today, requires financial institutions to offer debt mediation to farmers who are in arrears.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to supporting our $17.32 billion primary industries sector,” Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said today.

“Farming in Queensland is not a straightforward process. Queensland’s agricultural sector is vulnerable to external pressures, such as climate and market forces, global financial events and changes in domestic rural credit policies.

“We want to ensure farming families experiencing financial difficulty are treated fairly by financial institutions when they are faced with the daunting prospect of selling property assets to repay loans.

“The primary objective of this new legislation is to provide a process for the efficient and equitable resolution of farm debt matters,” Minister Byrne said.

“Mediation is a confidential process and an alternative to expensive and drawn-out legal processes.

“The legislation is not intrusive. It does not prevent financial institutions and producers from using informal negotiations to resolve their disputes.

“But if informal talks fail the lender will have to offer mediation before starting enforcement action.”

Farmers have an option to decline the offered mediation.

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (the new name of QRAA from July 1) will oversee the process and accredit mediators.

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