House debates

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Dairy Industry

10:17 am

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) Share this | Hansard source

I acknowledge the member for Kennedy and his passion and belief, not only in the dairy industry but also in agriculture. In fact, I was up in Malanda the other day with the member for Leichhardt, and met with a number of dairy producers up there. I was listening not only to their concerns but also to what they see as opportunities.

I think that the reassuring piece of where we sit at the moment is that while there are challenges within the dairy industry there are also opportunities. I saw that from producers firsthand. That's why we, as a government, have instituted a review through the ACCC. I had that review back in April; I asked the industry to give me direction with respect to a code of conduct, to make sure that there was fairness in the marketplace. The ACCC clearly found that there was an imbalance, and this government is working towards rectifying that imbalance. We're putting in place a mandatory code of conduct. The consultation process will be completed in the next couple of weeks, and the code will commence in 2020. It's commencing in 2020 because we have to align with contracts and production cycles.

The industry supports it fully and is supportive of where we're going with respect to that. But it's also important, as the member for Kennedy has quite rightly pointed out, around the imbalance with supermarkets in the purchase not only of milk but of agricultural products, that we, as a government, give our producers, whether dairy or any other commodity, the opportunity to spread their risk and to sell their commodity, not only domestically but internationally. That's what we've done with the trade agreements that we put in place, particularly with Japan, China and Korea. And now there is the TPP-11 and also—very soon, hopefully—Indonesia. Those give us the opportunities to spread the risk for our producers and to get a better commodity price that they may not receive domestically.

We have to understand that we're a nation of 25 million people and that we produce enough food for 75 million people. So it's important that we do engage the world and embrace the world through trade. That's what this government has done, obviously, to make sure that we get better returns at the farm gate and support regional communities, and that's the journey that we'll continue on as a government. We'll make sure that we, as a government, enter into a marketplace only when there is an imbalance. That's what a good government does. It doesn't interfere in a marketplace. It'll only interfere when there's an imbalance, and that's what we're doing with the mandatory code of conduct. That's what we'll continue to do. Anything else would risk the trade agreements that we have in place not only for dairy but also for other commodities. That has benefited agriculture, taking it from a $34 billion industry some eight years ago to, now, a $60 billion industry and to one that we intend to take to $100 billion by 2030.


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