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The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has told customers affected by the wave of mice wreaking havoc to contact their banks to discuss assistance options available to them.
The body’s member banks have extended a range of measures, including deferred principal payments on business loans or leasing payments, reduced home loan and personal loan repayments, credit card and personal loan relief, waived application fees for restructuring business facilities and mental health support via specialist programs.
ABA chief executive Anna Bligh commented that the banks are ready to assist communities as conditions worsen.
Each of the big four banks has launched dedicated hotlines.
ANZ has offered financial support to customers and businesses affected in NSW and southern Queensland.
The bank has told customers to contact their dedicated agribusiness banker to discuss their options, which could include waiving fees and temporarily pausing loan repayments.
ANZ head of agribusiness Mark Bennett commented: “This plague is proving very costly and disruptive. Many regional customers were still finding their feet after the drought, and now as they recover, they have another problem to deal with.”
CBA has offered support to customers and businesses affected across NSW, southern Queensland and the ACT.
The bank is offering varied measures for customers depending on their circumstances, including paused loan repayments on asset finance and eligible business loans, waived business loan restructures fees and charges and extended business loan term agreements.
Businesses could also be eligible to have fees and notice periods waived on cash deposit and farm management deposit accounts.
CBA has further offered to refund merchant terminal fees for up to 90 days for eligible customers.
NAB has rolled out financial support for customers hit by the plague in NSW.
The measures available to customers include:
- Waiving the application fee for restructuring business facilities;
- Deferral of principal payments on business loan and/or leasing payments;
- Waiving costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early (including farm management deposits);
- Credit card and personal loan relief;
- Offering reduction on home loan and personal loan repayments or moratoriums;
- MyCoach wellbeing support for colleagues and customers
June Rynski, NAB executive for regional and agribusiness, said the relief measures will help customers manage the financial impacts.
“This mice plague is devastating farmers, particularly their ability to protect their business against potential future droughts in storing feed and grains,” Ms Rynski said.
“We can’t underestimate the impact that something like this has on the mental health of the community either. It affects every part of our farmers’ lives and those around them.”
NAB has pointed to Rural Health Connect, an online platform that links Australians in rural areas to psychologists. The bank provided a $35,000 grant to the platform in May.
A Westpac spokeswoman reported the bank has been “proactively reaching out to agri customers” to see how it can help, offering tailored support, including financial hardship packages.
“We also work with customers to ensure they are prepared for the impact of the mouse plague, including, where appropriate, providing finance to help farmers invest in the right protection measures for crops and livestock,” the spokeswoman said.
[Related: Non-major bank waives annual fees]