Australian agriculture needs entrepreneurs, not bleaters

Where Australian agriculture goes, so goes the nation. I love Australian agriculture, and that is why I condemn this bill.

This bill, the Regional Investment Corporation Bill 2017, establishes a regional investment corporation to provide and administer up to $4 billion in concessional loans under a farm business loan program and water infrastructure loan program and to provide loans to the states and territories for infrastructure projects.

The bill empowers the relevant minister to issue an operating mandate and regulations for the corporation, including to make directions regarding specific water infrastructure projects and classes of farm owners. The minister wouldn’t be able to make directions regarding specific farm loans.

The Liberal Democrats oppose this bill because its main purpose is the establishment of another government bank, this time to consolidate the provision of loans to struggling farmers. We would all be better off without government banks. Without government banks, taxpayers would not have to pay the administration costs of government banks and would not have to fund loans that generate less of a return and have a higher risk of default. And, without government banks, Australian businesses and workers wouldn’t be diverted from the task of pursuing strong business prospects that a commercial bank would be willing to underwrite. This would help boost profits and wages. This is of particular relevance to agriculture.

Agriculture is one of Australia’s finest industries, but it could be even better if the bleating no-hopers in it were allowed to go broke. Good Australian farmers know who the bleaters are.

They are the ones who remember one year of green pastures back when John Farnham was topping the charts and consider every year since to be drought rather than normal.

They are the ones who hold out their hands for drought relief every decade or so.

They are the ones who think they have a God-given right to be always paid the best prices they’ve ever received for their produce with a government guarantee, and they are the ones who think you’ve insulted their mother if you suggest their individual survival is neither critical to the economy nor critical to our food security.

The bleaters in Australian agriculture are the ones who complain to The Nationals about everything but their own incompetence. And The Nationals respond by providing handouts, concessional loans and government interference in commercial negotiations to keep the bleaters on the land.

If the bleaters were left to themselves, they would ultimately have no option but to change their ways or sell up, which would allow neighbouring farmers to expand and apply their more entrepreneurial, innovative spirit to the new acreage.

Australian agriculture would benefit.

Where Australian agriculture goes, so goes the nation. I love Australian agriculture, and that is why I condemn this bill.