Thursday, 21 February 2019
One of the greatest ways to get the attention of the big organisation is to vest your powers. By gosh, they listen to them. But we in this parliament can't seem to get even the most minor section of the industry covered by a divestiture power, which is the power industry, which of course is another great asset. It is a huge cost for dairy; it's probably the biggest one they've got. If we can't affect the power prices and we can't convince—I'll be more bipartisan here—a greater emphasis on water infrastructure, which they need for irrigation, you're not going to solve this issue by merely a floor price. Why? Because once the big organisations—Coles and Woolies—knows there's a floor price, how will that encourage them to say: 'Great, we'll offer them any price and the government will make up the difference. That's what happened in the wool game. Let's do that again. It worked out well.' While we had the floor price on wool, we had so much wool in store that one of the honest suggestions was to burn it to try and get rid of it.
I'll just also go through the deregulation required back in, I think, 1999. The regulation for deregulation was to go through the states and then it would be funded in a support package by the federal government. You may ask where I got that from. I got it from Dairy Australia. So it is ridiculous that we are somehow going to reinvent the wheel. It most likely won't even be supported by the dairy industry. In fact, we have not had a serious report back—and I reflect to the member for Murray: they had a meeting with the Australian Dairy Industry Council, and they don't want this. So we're in the odd position where we're supporting something that even the industry doesn't want. Just believe that they know more about this issue, if you're not following it, than some voices we may hear in this debate.
What I would say to the Labor Party is that, if you go out and say you support a divestiture power, I'll be backing you. I'll be backing you, because, by gosh, Coles and Woolworths will listen to that—and, in saying that, I reckon I'll have every lobbyist in Australia knocking on my door. So let us be more sophisticated and listen to the real ways we can fix this and put to the side the gloss of something that will not only hurt milk but will hurt every agricultural industry.