An announcement made by the Palaszczuk Government last week could see $960,000 help promote the Queensland dairy industry, but political parties have mixed views on the decision.
After having the Fair Milk Price Logos Bill tabled in government at the end of July, Katter’s Australian Party has recently slammed the announcement saying the government turned down their bill because “it wasn’t their idea”.
A $960,000 grant was announced last week for marketing strategies to help consumers make better-informed decisions when buying milk. Of which $550,000 would provide Queensland Dairy Organisation (QDO) over three years to design and implement a pilot scheme and $120,000 for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to facilitate greater farmer participation in the Queensland Dairy Accounting Scheme (QDAS).
KAP Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, said the same $550,000 that the Labor Government assigned to the QDO is exactly what KAP’s Bill would have achieved.
“This is a disgusting slap in the face by the government,” Mr Knuth said.
“They pretend they are heroes, but all they have done is announce they will spend three years developing a scheme that we could have had implemented sooner. By then it will be too little too late.
“It’s a sick joke. Based on the current rate of dairy farmers going under, another 210 farmers will have to walk off their properties by the time the government’s pilot comes to fruition.”
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Dale Last, welcomed the state government funding and said was the best way the marketing initiative could be progressed.
“The KAP bill was unanimously rejected by the Agriculture and Environment Committee on a number of grounds, including strong legal advice it could breach Section 92 of the Constitution that allows free-trade between states.
“The fact is that Queensland doesn’t produce enough milk for local consumption with processors regularly trucking 25 to 30 per cent of fresh milk from southern states. That milk is then blended with local product in the factories prior to bottling.
“Voluntary labelling can and does work for smaller co-ops and factories who are already doing this and Cooloola Milk and Maleny Dairies are good examples of this. But what was proposed by KAP simply would not work across the broader industry.”
Mr Last said supermarket price wars and damaging dollar per litre milk campaigns hurt dairy farmers nationwide.
“Ultimately any solution to domestic milk pricing needs be addressed through a national approach through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC),” he said.
“The ACCC is currently investigating pricing, competitiveness, trading practices and transparency in the dairy industry. Importantly this ACCC inquiry will have access to previously secret details about market share, margins, pricing mechanisms and international markets.
“The ACCC will report to the Federal Treasurer before November 1, 2017. Everyone in industry eagerly awaits this report.”