MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Bob Katter MP : Federal Leader Member for Kennedy : 30 JUNE 2017
Bank battle notches up rare win for deserving pioneer KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has congratulated North Qld prawn farming pioneer Sam Sciacca on a rare win against the banks in his battle to remain in the family home, despite a pending repossession.
“But whilst we may have had spectacular wins in the nationally prominent case of Charlie Phillott and the Sciacca case, we must emphasise to people that we can’t work magic,” warned Mr Katter, who has introduced legislation to the Australian Parliament to force a Royal Commission into financial services.
“These are one-offs, very peculiar cases that arouse great passions and have taken years of advocacy and fighting. Whilst we fight very many cases, very few fit the Sciacca/Phillott mould … both of them great pioneers in the fields of irrigation and mariculture.”
The Sciacca brothers and Coco family – along with Jimmy Ryall, George Wahday and family, and Irwin Vidor – founded the region’s fish farming industry, worth $500m a year* to the nation’s economy, said Mr Katter.
“The old adage – pioneers built houses for others to live in – this would be the classic example,” he said. “Sam and his partner Graham Blight were responsible for one of the two biggest prawn farms in the country at the time. And whilst they went down financially in the two cyclones, Larry and Yasi, the Seafarms Group have incorporated the huge Sciacca area into their operations at Cardwell, providing the economic mainstay.”
Mr Sciacca not only took a financial knock, he also had a heart attack and stroke, confining him to a wheelchair.
“So whilst we think the two other banks that Sam is carrying out action against deserve nothing more than disdain, if they’d allowed a bit more time, most farms could have been transferred to Seafarms in a reasonable manner – and Sam and Graham would have seen some reward for a lifetime of pioneering.
“However, the bank has this week agreed to give Sam a life interest to remain in his house – albeit after a prolonged battle. I think there would have been a very serious confrontation if the bank had attempted to drag Sam out of his home, and his carer out of the carer’s cottage.”
Mr Katter said he wanted to also put on the record his thanks to his Chief of Staff Anne Pleash, who handled much of the negotiations, as well as pay tribute to a man who pioneered an industry.
“That industry is there today because of people like Sam Sciacca,” he said. “And I believe that if we can get an extended waterway out of Burketown for our phosphate, we will see (with the WA Seafarms development) that industry, in my lifetime, become bigger than the ‘big three’ of gold, aluminium and beef (which come after, of course, the two giants of iron ore and coal at $130 billion). I think the industry will rival the $11 billion each being produced by gold, aluminium and beef, given that Thailand – in much less suitable conditions – is producing more than $10 billion a year in prawn production alone.”
#ENDS# * “And it would be worth even more if it wasn’t for the ‘gangreens’,” added Mr Katter.