17 June 2008 - Rural Debt for Central Queensland reaches $1.7 billion
The 2007 Rural Debt Survey released today has revealed Queensland’s rural debt has increased by $2.6 billion (30%) since 2005, to total $11.28 billion.
The Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, the Honourable Tim Mulherin, MP, delivered the QRAA 2007 Rural Debt Survey results at a formal presentation in Brisbane today.
The survey shows that, as of December 2007, rural debt within the Central Queensland ABARE region has increased by $269 million (19%) since 2005, to reach $1.7 billion.
QRAA Chief Executive Officer, Colin Holden, says expansion in the beef industry has contributed to movements in debt levels within Central Queensland, a region which accounts for 15.1% of Queensland’s total rural debt.
“A number of grain producers have diversified into the beef industry, increasing beef industry debt levels. Rising production costs have also contributed to the industry’s $249 million increase within the Central Queensland region over the past two years. However, this contribution is less than 2003 – 2005 figures, in which the industry recorded a $297 million increase in this region", Mr Holden said.
Thirty-one per cent of the beef industry is represented by three shires, Central Highlands Regional Council, Banana Shire Council and Isaac Regional Council, all of which are located within Central Queensland.
Central Highlands Regional Council and Banana Shire Council recorded the highest levels of debt, accounting for $952 million (8%) and $644 million (6%) of total rural debt in Queensland respectively.
The number of rural borrowers in the Central Queensland region, which includes Central Highlands, Isaac and Rockhampton Regional Councils and Banana Shire Council, has decreased by 10% over the past two years, to 1,730. Across Queensland, there has been a decrease of 13% in the number of rural borrowers, however the average debt per borrower has increased from $531,690 in 2005 to $795,599.
Encouragingly, the survey shows 86% of the region’s total debt is classified by the banks as ‘A’ and ‘B+’ rated debt, which indicates that borrowers are considered viable or potentially viable in the long-term.
The Rural Debt Survey, which is commissioned by QRAA and prepared by Moore Stephens, is based on information supplied by rural lending institutions and includes all Queensland primary producers with borrowings. Produced bi-yearly, the survey identifies rural debt by region, local government shire and industry within Queensland.
For further information on Central Queensland (ABARE region 3221), visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au. The level of rural debt within each region and industry is available on QRAA’s website, as well as the facility to download the full report of the 2007 Rural Debt Survey and lodge requests for more detailed reports.