The Treasurer and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources have established the Drought Finance Taskforce (the Taskforce). The purpose of the Taskforce is to bring together banks, the National Farmers’ Federation, regional and rural members of the Parliament of Australia, and the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, to work together in partnership to share information and identify ways in which banks, in collaboration with Government, could assist farms and other businesses in drought-affected regions.
The Taskforce will comprise:
- a senior representative from each of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Rabobank and Westpac Banking Corporation (banks) with responsibility for business lending in rural and regional areas;
- the Treasurer, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and Members of Parliament as nominated by them; and
- a senior representative from the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
The Chairman of the Taskforce will be the Treasurer and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources will be the Deputy Chair. There will not be more than eleven members.
Members will meet as determined by the Chair which is necessary for the Taskforce to perform its functions and provide advice to the Government, CEOs of the banks and the NFF in a timely manner.
The Taskforce will perform the following functions:
- Leverage the resources that each has in impacted regions to share insights and information on the impact drought is having, or has had, on a region and on farms and other businesses in that region.
- Establish mechanisms as needed to support the sharing of such insights in a timely manner.
- Advise the Government, the CEOs of the banks and the NFF on the impact of drought on farms and other rural and regional businesses and measures that could help alleviate the impact of drought for those businesses.
A representative from the Rural Financial Counselling Service will attend as required to provide insights and relevant information for the Taskforce to consider.
Members agree to share relevant data and other information to assist in performing these functions but will not be required to share any data or other information, or act in a particular way, if to do so would be in breach of obligations under competition and other laws or is commercially sensitive.
The Taskforce will be supported by a secretariat provided by Treasury.