“We commend the National Australia Bank’s promise yesterday not to charge farmers affected by drought higher default interest rates on their loan repayments and to offset farm management deposits,” the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said today.
“We would like to see more banks follow NAB’s lead and we would like to see this support extended to small businesses and rural industries, which are also struggling to survive in drought affected areas.
“The economic and mental stress of Australia’s farming communities battling to operate during a drought is enormous.
“The flow-on effect of this is that small businesses are suffering and should also be offered some reprieve by the banks.
“Rural industries supporting farmers and country townships also get caught up in the downward spiral during a drought, and other crises such as bushfires and floods.
“Too many are left having to solely rely on family, friends and the broader community during these hard times.
“It’s important that banks stand by rural communities when they are doing it tough and build relationships that support economic growth in good and bad times.
“We are optimistically viewing the NAB announcement as a much needed change in bank culture and hope other banks might take a long hard look at themselves and follow suit. —