|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Rural Finance Corporation was established on 1 July 1988 under the Rural Finance Act 1988 (No.44). Its charter was to promote and support rural industries and economic growth in regional Victoria. The Corporation was the successor agency to the Rural Finance Commission (VA 1073) which operated with similar objectives between 1977 and 1988.
It should be noted that another agency operated with the title Rural Finance Corporation between 1949 and 1962. This agency also had a similar sphere of responsibility to the later body, however it has been registered separately as VA 2272 and has been titled Rural Finance Corporation I in Public Record Office Victoria's Archival Control System.
The responsibilities of the Rural Finance Corporation, as set down by its establishing Act are to:
- provide financial and other services to rural industries on the direction of the Treasurer
- administer State and Commonwealth schemes of assistance or other schemes
- administer the remaining purchase leases, mortgages, contracts of sale and other interests created under the Land Settlement Act 1959 (No.6534) and the Soldier Settlement Act 1958 (No.6373)
- co-ordinate financial resources for investment in rural industries to facilitate an increase in the availability of finance to persons engaged in or seeking to establish rural industry
- provide services and advice to government with regard to rural industries and rural affairs where appropriate to undertake promotional activities to further the objectives of the Rural Finance Act 1988 (No.44)
- acquire and dispose of property and provide or arrange loans for commercial and rural purposes
- manage administration of Closer Settlement and Soldier Settlement.
In addition, the Corporation inherited from the Rural Finance Commission (VA 1073) responsibility for administering the small number of continuing purchase leases, contracts of sale and mortgages created under the Land Settlement Act 1959 (No.6534) or the Soldier Settlement Act 1958 (No.6373). The Rural Finance Act repealed both of these Acts, but all contracts still in force at the time they were repealed remained in operation and were administered by the Corporation.
The Corporation also had responsibility for disposing of land which was reserved for soldier settlement or closer settlement and was, at 1 July 1988, not subject to any lease or purchase arrangement. The Rural Finance Act provided for all unallocated land set aside for such purposes to be vested in the Corporation and disposed of as the Corporation saw fit.
In November 1988 most of the assets and liabilities of the Victorian Economic Development Corporation (VA 1109) were transferred to the Rural Finance Corporation after the VEDC was wound down. This included administering commercial and rural loan arrangements established by the VEDC.
Other schemes administered by Rural Finance Corporation included Natural Disaster Relief Schemes and the Young Farmers' Finance Scheme which provided funds at a concessional rate to young farmers for the purchase of stock, equipment and land.
The Corporation was administered by a Board of Management appointed by the Governor-In-Council and had a Chief Executive Officer appointed by the Board.
Responsibility to Treasurer and Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs
The Corporation was subject to the general direction and control of the Treasurer with regard to its financial policies and practices and to that of the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs with regard to its operations and overall policy. Ultimate responsibility for the administration of the Rural Finance Act 1988, however, lies with the Treasurer.
Privatisation and abolition
In 2014, the Victorian Government sold Rural Finance Corporation to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. The Rural Finance Corporation Board of Management would operate until June 2016. The Rural Finance Act 1988 was repealed under the Rural Assistance Schemes Act 2016.