Question Time: Pay Day Lending

February 26, 2018

Banking and Financial Services

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (14:57): My question as to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, and it concerns farming families. Is the minister concerned the government's inept delay at introducing reforms to payday lending and rent-to-buy schemes is hurting farming families, including farming families who are being preyed on by unscrupulous lenders who are sometimes charging more than $8,000 for a laptop worth $1,900? Are you concerned, Minister? You should be.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on both sides! I'm trying to hear the Leader of the House. It's normally not hard to hear him, but it's a bit difficult at the moment.

Mr Pyne: Apart from the inappropriate use of the word 'you', which the member should know by now is not allowed, the issue about payday lending sits in the portfolio of the Treasury, which is either to be answered by the minister for revenue or the Treasurer. It's not within the responsibilities of the minister for agriculture, no matter how they might try and dress up the introduction and the conclusion.

Mr Burke: The minister for agriculture for the last two terms has been able to answer questions relating to the impact of a range of government policies on the constituencies of farming families, otherwise it never would have been possible, for example, for an answer on a free trade agreement to be given by the minister for agriculture. We've had plenty of them.

The SPEAKER: Having heard the question, the Leader of the House is right with respect to those last couple of words in the question, and in fact when the member speaks in that way she's actually referring to me not the minister. We'll leave that to one side. In terms of the question, whilst it's undoubtedly the case that ministerial responsibility rests with the Treasurer, the member has sufficiently related the policy issue to the minister's responsibilities in the agriculture portfolio, so I am going to allow the question.

Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:59): I thank the honourable member for the question. Again, the Labor Party only does half the job when it comes to research. They've taken a story out of The Courier-Mail that's totally taken out of context in respect of numbers. I'm going to put my hand up and say I'm a proud business owner—something those opposite wouldn't know anything about. If they're asserting that I'm making thousands of dollars out of having a consumer-leasing business, I say: come and have a look at my profit and loss. You mightn't know what a profit and loss looks like, because you've never had to run one. You know what? I'm proud to say that I put my hand in my own pocket and invested in a small regional community. I'm proud to say I put my hand in my pocket and I employ four people in a regional community. I'm proud to say I provide a service for those who are less fortunate than you or I, Mr Speaker, those who can't afford to buy a fridge or a TV. It allows them to be able to do it.

In respect of the numbers that are quoted, what they fail to acknowledge or understand, because of some unfortunate reporting, is that the lease agreement they've quoted provides an opportunity for those people who lease the product to be able to upgrade or change that product or have a service for that product when it breaks down. That's what a business does, and those opposite should understand that we play an important part in small business. If you want to cast aspersions on my character in this way, for God's sake come with some policy. Come with something that's going to change Australians' lives and stop the character assassination of those who are trying to make Australia better.

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen on a point of order?

Mr Rob Mitchell: I have a point of order following the leader of the government's point of order. The minister said that you don't know what a profit-and-loss sheet is. I think that's quite wrong. I think you might know what it is, and maybe we could get him to address it properly.

The SPEAKER: Thank you for that insightful point of order.