Monday, 15 January 2024

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, has called for all banks to grant deferment on loan repayments for North Queensland businesses and homeowners affected by floods while they can recover financially.

Speaking following a tour of the Cairns, Mareeba, Mossman and Cooktown regions – her second since mid-December – Senator McDonald said flood victims needed time to reestablish their cash flow and prioritise payments to staff and local creditors without the added burden of meeting loan repayments.

She has contacted major financiers asking them to consider pausing loan repayments and extending loan terms for home and business owners desperately trying to get back on their feet.
“This offer has been made previously to distressed businesses following disasters. Some people have lost everything and need to keep their jobs. By deferring loans for three to six months, employers can ensure these jobs remain,” she said.

“Some banks are offering loan deferment options for customers but this needs to be an industry-wide policy and it needs to be adequate to ensure businesses stay open and jobs preserved so this important region recovers as quickly as possible.

“Business owners have contacted me in great distress at having lost much of their traditional Christmas trade and still having to service loans while figuring out how to pay staff and local creditors.
“Putting a hold on repayments and extending the term of the loan would help commerce recover much more quickly and give employees more job security.”

Senator McDonald also repeated calls for the Queensland Government to remove Stamp Duty from Northern insurance policies to ease insurance cost burdens.

“Only a fraction of the duty collected goes back into household resilience programs, and meanwhile the Miles Queensland Government is stuffing its Brisbane coffers,” she said.