But how do you fix a problem if you don't know how big it is?
There was no QRAA rural debt survey in 2013 because the banks just refused to participate.
This youtube is a speech by Queensland Senator Barry O'Sullivan in the Senate chamber on the 27th March 2014.
With the banks refusing to participate and thereby no 2013 rural debt survey represents a significant information gap for policy development – therefore it is hard to accurately gauge the extent of the issue of debt, particularly across Northern Australia, where drought and the 2011 live export suspension have crippled communities.
The Australian Bankers Association believe there is not a rural debt issue in Queensland.
However, the latest available survey (from the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority rural debt survey in 2011) found the beef industry total debt of $9.17 billion in 2011 was up 17.2 per cent from 2009. The beef sector represented more than half of the total rural debt in Queensland (where 66pc of the national herd can be found). The number of borrowers only increased to about 6,500, up from 5,660 in 2009.
Beef industry borrowers considered non-viable increased from less than 1 per cent to 6.9 per cent of the total pool (loan classes below A and B+) in the period.
Given the impacts of the live export suspension decision, the ongoing drought and an extended recovery period likely, this debt position is expected to have deteriorated and the potential for significant industry debt reduction in the short-term is likely to be limited.
The banks need change their minds and participate or at least explain their decision.