Katter compares foreign investors to medieval landlords
THE often behatted Bob Katter has simultaneously attacked and praised the Federal Government as an epilogue to his Rural Roundtable held in Brisbane on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Member for Kennedy in North Queensland brought together Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan, Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig plus a slew of experts, bankers and government staffers to help nut out solutions to funding issues affecting rural producers across the country.
Mr Katter congratulated both Mr Swan and Mr Ludwig for their involvement but set his crosshairs on someone he described as a "senior departmental official" who told guests the outlook for agriculture was bright.
The passionate rural advocate said the comment silenced the room before farmers "exploded".
Mr Katter said sheep, cattle, sugar and dairy herd numbers were falling and grains debt had almost doubled nationally.
"Here were these advisers to government saying everything was hunky-dory," he said.
"You could hear the silence and the expected explosion that followed it.
"(The advisor) must not venture outside his ivory tower in Canberra because they would lynch him in regional Queensland."
The proposals - including the creation of a land bank, a reconstruction board and an improved process on bank foreclosing on properties - will now be considered by the Federal Government which has, so far, agreed to keep its ears open to the sector, according to Mr Katter.
He said a lack of action on this front could increase the amount of foreign ownership where Australians would "live in a country as modern-day serfs working for foreign landlords".
In May, a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggested 99% of all agricultural businesses were entirely Australian owned, 89% of agricultural land was owned by Australians and more than 90% of water entitlements for agricultural use was Australian owned.