The Palaszczuk Labor Government has come under fire for snubbing its own 'buy local' philosophy after awarding a major dairy contract to two foreign-owned companies.
Maleny Dairies lost out on their bid to supply the Metro North Hospital and Health service, which includes Queensland's biggest hospital Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, with fresh milk and dairy products, with the contract instead awarded to French-owned company Lactalis Australia.
Acting Health Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk government knows the importance of supporting local providers wherever possible, spruiking Lactalis' history as a diary company that began with the opening of Pauls milk factory on the banks of the Brisbane River back in the 1930s, and that the company's national head office is located in South Brisbane.
"The successful contractor was the only tenderer able to supply the full range of full and low-fat products required, including milk, cheese and yoghurt, to meet the dietary standards and varied requirements of patients," Minister Enoch said.
"They're also the largest milk processor in Queensland and the biggest buyer of raw milk in Queensland.
"Almost all the milk provided to patients and staff will be fresh milk, with as much as possible from Queensland dairies. Where milk can't be sourced from Queensland, it's sourced from interstate, not overseas."
A statement from the minister also said a small percentage (2 to 3 per cent) of the contract was being filled by Lion Dairy "for a very niche product that only they produce, used in some patient diets".
But Maleny Dairies owner and director Ross Hopper fired back at Minister Enoch saying it was not relevant where a foreign-owned company's headquarters are located.
"It is not a Queensland owned company that was a cornerstone of the Queensland government's Queensland for Queenslanders policy of buying local," Mr Hopper said.
"A huge part of the tender was about proving that we can supply quality dairy product, from delivery times and locations, through to volume throughout the year.
"They thought that we mightn't have been able to supply demand... and that's a load of crap.
"The whole of the tender represents no more than an extra 5pc more business to Maleny Dairies. We could have done their volume in our sleep."
Mr Hopper said "it was a sitting duck" in terms of ease for the Queensland government to award this tender to Maleny Dairies, and a combination of cheese and yoghurt makers, if that's what they wanted.
"We already drive past every hospital every day in our delivery trucks. We could have done all the full cream and low fat milk, a lot of the custard and yoghurt, and outsourced the cheeses to local companies who need increased sales as much as we do," he said.
"If the Queensland government hadn't used us all year to go to events supporting their campaigns about buying local, we wouldn't have even tendered.
"They've made us feel like fools because they were pushing the Queensland thing... and all they've done is go with a foreign owned supplier instead."
A "100 per cent Queensland family owned" company, Maleny Dairies is supplied by 11 farms in the south east corner and processes 200,000 litres of milk per week.
Mr Hopper said his criticism of the government was not about losing the tender - he would have been more than happy to lose to another Queensland-owned company - but on behalf of all farmers and suppliers who are down on their luck and missing out.
"They're not doing what they're preaching (buy local)," he said.
"We pay our farmers a decent amount to get good quality milk.
"We acknowledge that we're probably not the cheapest contractor, but then again we can't pay our farmers properly and then sell cheap milk.
"We want to sell quality milk, and if you pay a quality price to your farmers, you'll get quality milk."
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has demanded that the government overturn the decision, saying it was "absolute hypocrisy from Premier Palaszczuk".
"It's beyond belief. Labor is behaving like a government that doesn't care about Queensland or have the best interests of Queenslanders at heart. Labor would rather fund jobs in France and China," Senator Hanson said.
"Maleny Dairies is ready and able to fulfill the contract of up to 15,000 litres for local hospitals; it is a solid award-winning Queensland company that has created jobs and supports locals by buying directly from farmers around the state's south east.
"Bizarrely, Queensland Health asked Maleny Dairies to make sure they lodged a tender, even though they made it clear they couldn't compete on price, and here they are losing out to the overseas companies.
"Perhaps Maleny Dairies missed out because it's located in blue ribbon territory and not in a Labor-held seat. If the company was located in Inala, I suspect the outcome might have been different."