Jul 2019

Arbitration and re-regulation is the answer to a sustainable dairy industry

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AS the second week of Parliament commences in Canberra, the three big supermarket chains Woolworths, Coles and Aldi have increased their price for home brand milk in a bid to ‘support a sustainable dairy industry’, but KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter says the battered Australian dairy industry could be saved by simply reregulating the industry and granting the farmers their right to arbitration.

Prior to deregulation of the dairy industry in July 2000, the farmers enjoyed 58.9c per litre under the arbitration system for milk prices. The day after deregulation it went down to 41.5c. Mr Katter said the deregulated market didn’t deliver to the consumers; rather the pricing to consumers went up some 40 per cent over that same period of time and that the only winners were the supermarket giants.

“Thanks to deregulation we’ve lost our export market, we’ve lost thousands of dairy farmers throughout Australia and destroyed the economies of whole towns and regions – what for? To provide an extra $1,100m of profit to the piggy in the middle, the giant supermarket chains while the dairy farmers and the consumers got screwed.

“They quite literally secured it over the dead bodies of farmers. Three years after they deregulated the industry, the highest suicide rate in Australia was on the Atherton Tablelands. And the focus is on the farmers here, no one worries about the workers, the suppliers, and the business people who took the hit for the $50m that was going into Atherton and then suddenly was not going into the Atherton Tableland anymore.”

Mr Katter slammed the National Party again for failing the industry nearly 20 years on from when he famously quit the party over their role in deregulating the industry. He said the hypocrisy of the National Party in this case was staggering when the ALP MP Joel Fitzgibbon moved in the Parliament for a minimum price scheme earlier this year.

“Whether you like the ALP or not, they moved for a minimum price scheme even though I don’t think they were fair dinkum about it, and every one of the speakers that I listened to was a National Party speaker rejected the motion saying it couldn’t be done because it breached ‘national trade agreements’.

“These are the people who had their hand on the rudder and let it be torn to pieces. 90 per cent of people in Queensland would my name “Bob Katter” and “National Party” in the same sentence – I was a standard-bearer and it was a standard-bearer that had to leave. All my principles of the original Country Party were turkey-trampled by my own party and dairying is a classic example of what occurred.

“It’s obvious that the National Party want to look after the rest of the world rather than look after Australians.”

Mr Katter dismissed the Government’s promised $560,000 grant which would fund a new trading and marketing platform for farmers as being a ‘waste of time’.

“The famous quote by Winston Churchill, “An Inquiry is a decisive decision to never ever make a decision”.

“I have a passionate commitment to getting a fair go and clearly, if you put statutory marketing back in, milk will go back up. Every worker should have, deserves and must have arbitration for a fair and just economy. How can you say a worker can get arbitration but the farmer cannot?

“We must reregulate the industry and give the farmers their right to arbitration. If someone can tell me another way to fix the industry I’d like to hear about it.”


Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au