Senate debates

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Reserve Bank Amendment (Australian Reconstruction and Development Board) Bill 2013; Second Reading

12:11 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum.

Leave granted.

I table the explanatory memorandum and seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—


Rural and regional Australia is struggling. We have heard over and over again the challenges communities are facing, and how they are trying to survive. In recent years, they have borne the brunt of extreme weather events, a high Australian dollar, and a lack of support from State, Territory and Federal Governments.

This bill, which mirrors that introduced in the House by the Member for Kennedy, the Hon. Bob Katter MP, seeks to establish a specific board under the umbrella of the Reserve Bank. The aim of this board is to aid reconstruction and development in rural and regional areas.

In a sense, the proposed board is similar to the Commonwealth Development Bank, which was established in 1960. Its aim was to provide loans to individuals and businesses in the primary and secondary industry sectors, where that support would lead to an increase in productivity and wasn't otherwise available to the applicants.

Rural and regional areas are, in many ways, the lifeblood of our country. Certainly, our farmers play an incredibly important role both in our economy and our national security. Without their produce, we are all at risk.

People living in rural and regional areas face challenges on almost every front. In terms of healthcare, of education, of aged care, and of employment, they have to fight to be counted.

If rural and regional communities do not receive the support they so desperately need, the impact on the rest of Australia will be significant, in both economic and cultural terms.

It is time to overhaul our attitude in this area. Government grants and programs are no longer enough. Instead, we need to establish a body that has the power to make a real, long term difference, such as the board proposed in this bill.

We cannot ignore this problem any longer. Australians living in rural and regional communities deserve better. They deserve security, and they deserve to know the Government is taking meaningful steps to fix this problem.

The measures in this bill will bring about real and long lasting change. And that change will not only benefit rural and regional communities, but the rest of Australia as those communities flourish.

This bill is in the best interests of us all.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.