Banks in crisis talks

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
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WA might introduce laws for compulsory mediation between farmers and banks after a crisis meeting in Perth yesterday to discuss the future of the eastern Wheatbelt.

The meeting brought together about 15 farmers and officers from seven banks.

They focused on three areas - the immediate challenges for people and communities, the challenges over the next six to 18 months and how to develop a sustainable and profitable industry in the long term.

Huge debt levels and high interest rates have sparked warnings that hundreds of farmers could be lost to the industry as banks take a harder line through asset management and deeds of forbearance.

The meeting was organised by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA.

Department director-general Rob Delane said compulsory mediation was a way of dealing with financial problems before they spiralled out of control.

The talks highlighted that early decision-making through mediation was in the best interests of banks and farmers.

"We are moving on getting a proposal to Government on how that might be handled through legislation," Mr Delane said.

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