Westpac Group welcomes Government Drought Finance Taskforce
10 October, 2018
Westpac Group has today welcomed the establishment of the Drought Finance Taskforce which will see banks, industry and government work together to find meaningful ways to further support Australian farmers and local communities in drought-affected areas.
Westpac National Head of Agribusiness Stephen Hannan will represent Westpac and its agribusiness customers on the new Taskforce.
Westpac has a deep commitment to supporting business and community resilience across rural and regional Australia and Mr Hannan said he looks forward to building on this through a collaborative industry-wide strategy.
“We’re looking forward to having constructive conversations with the Government and other Taskforce members to address the major underlying issues associated with drought in order to create long-term, scalable change that helps to future-proof rural communities and Australian agriculture.”
“We work very closely with our agribusiness customers to support them through both good and bad cycles and know that times like these can be extremely tough. We have been proactively contacting many of our customers and have announced a number of drought relief initiatives that provide immediate financial relief, such as deferring loan repayments and restructuring existing loans with no fees.”
This year, Westpac Group established an internal National Drought Relief Response team to coordinate the various divisional activities undertaken across Westpac Group.
To support its agribusiness customers and rural communities, it has introduced the following initiatives:
- The creation of a $100 million fund to provide carry on finance loans of up to $1 million to existing eligible Westpac Group agribusiness customers at a heavily-discounted variable interest rate1;
- Giving drought-impacted customers the option to defer principal and interest repayments on existing business term loans and equipment finance for up to 12 months2; and
- Combined $200,000 donation to the Salvation Army Rural Support Services Program, and Community Recovery Resilience grants; and
- Offering an interest adjustment for customers with Farm Management Deposit (FMD) to effectively offset FMD balances against their eligible business loans3.
Westpac Agribusiness also recently made its first major capital investment in Australian ag-tech business GoannaAg, to help drive data and sensor innovation in the sector and improve telecommunications infrastructure in regional Australia.
“Building resilience and a stronger future for regional and rural Australia also relies on maximising the resources we have, and driving innovation that tackles real challenges like climate change. We believe collaboration, information sharing and investments such as this will help to build resilience and boost Australia’s globally competitive edge,” Mr Hannan said.
Stephen Hannan background
Mr Hannan joined Westpac in 1989 and became National Manager for Westpac Agribusiness in Australia in early 2014. As the sixth generation of a farming family based on the Lower Macleay at Kinchela Creek, he is a passionate and proud custodian in serving rural, regional and remote communities that represent Australia.
Lucy Wilson - 0428 777 704
1 Business Loan terms of up to 3 years at a customer group level.
2 During the 12 month deferment of interest repayments, interest will continue to be applied to the loan balance.
3 The interest adjustment will be applied to those customers who accept the offer and will be calculated for the current financial year based on the relative balances of the farm management deposit and the eligible business loans.