Is Queensland Country really for country?
I am calling on the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Country Bank to explain why it embraces an inherently discriminatory home lending policy that marginalises residents of Burketown on the basis of the town's "location and population".
Burke Shire Council has worked with the state government to facilitate the sale of some of its housing assets to employees, many of whom are Indigenous.
These staff have secure public sector employment with the Council, strong community ties and they represent a low financial risk.
Yet the bank is refusing to offer mortgages to staff who are long-term members and, by doing so, prohibiting them from experiencing home ownership as enjoyed by members who do not live in Burketown.
Last month, the bank told ABC North West Queensland that it had "no formal policy" on lending for residential or commercial properties in Burketown.
This week, one of my staff and their partner applied for a home loan with the bank on this advice, only to have it refused in writing because it "isn't able to lend funds for Home Loans in this region" due to Burketown being "outside of our credit policy".
Would the application have been refused had it been made by a Burketown resident seeking to buy one of the region's pastoral properties?
Queensland Country Bank professes that "community development and personal growth matter", as does helping its members achieve their personal goals. Unless those members happen to live in a remote town with a predominantly Indigenous population base, that is.
Chief Executive Officer
Burke Shire Council
Veterans Health Week Social Connection
This week is Veterans' Health Week which runs from 24 October to 1 November 2020, and the theme this year is Social Connection.
Now more than ever we need to keep up with our social connections, check in on our mates and make every effort to support one another through these difficult times. Being socially connected is one of the most important aspects of maintaining overall mental health and wellbeing and it is crucial for our veteran community to stay connected to their friends, family or local communities.
Almost 400 Veterans' Health Week events are being held across Australia this year, both in person and virtually, providing participants with COVID-safe options so everyone can get involved.
I encourage veterans, serving members and their families to attend a Veterans' Health Week event over the coming weeks, whether it is from the comfort of their own homes or attending safely in person.
Thank you to all the ex-service organisations and other veteran groups who have organised events this year, and creating an opportunity for veterans and their families to show their support for one another and raise awareness for veteran mental health.
Finally, to all current and former ADF personnel who may be struggling for any reason, help is available and I encourage you to please reach out.
Don't forget that Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year to all current and former ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046.
Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel