House debates

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Motions

Dairy Industry

10:27 am

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I won't take too much of the time of this House. I actually just want to acknowledge many of the comments of the member for New England. I have a number of dairies in my community, although the number of those farming families is shrinking day by day. Yesterday I had the great privilege to meet a young lady called Casey Treloar. Casey comes from a dairy family down on the South Coast, and her family is leaving the industry.

I agree with the member for New England: what we need is not something radical; what we need is something that exists in many countries—the USA, the UK—and which former senator Nick Xenophon was very supportive of, and that's divesture laws. We need that when we are a nation where, as the member for Kennedy said, there are just a couple of processors in the dairy industry and a couple of buyers. I would urge every member of this House to read Malcolm Knox's book. It is called Supermarket Monsters: The Price of Coles and Woolworths' Dominance.

Let me tell you: we are crippling family farmers because we are not acting with divesture laws. That's where we need to go in the next parliament. We need to make sure that we have competition and protection when the duopolies are squeezing from the very top. The ones that hurt are the farmers down the bottom. I do not want to get to a time in Australia when my children and grandchildren cannot drink Australian milk. It's the same for apples. It's the same for every horticulture industry. It's the same right across the board. We are killing family farmers because we are not acting in this place. I would urge whoever is in government in the next parliament to make sure we put front and centre divestiture laws for the protection and peace of mind for a number of industries in the farming sector.

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