House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Questions without Notice

Dairy Industry

3:06 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The member for New England has called for a royal commission into the dairy sector because, he says, 'Those with market power have utilised it at the expense of our dairy producers.' But the agriculture minister has rejected the call by the member for New England. Prime Minister, who is right?

3:07 pm

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

I'm glad to see the member for Hunter actually had the time to put a question in today. He's obviously got his 20 guests for OTIS this week!

Let me say to him that I have not ruled anything out. No-one has ever ruled a royal commission out on any matter. It would be unwise to do so. But to create a royal commission you need to have the evidence that there has been malpractice. You do not simply call for a royal commission at the drop of a hat. But, if there are those who have evidence to suggest that there has been wrongdoing, be that by a supermarket or a processor, then there would be evidence that they could put forward for a determination to be made. That is a simple process that we undertake.

But that's what you do: you undertake it based on fact—not on fiction or politics. That's what the member for Hunter is trying to do here. It is only on this side that we've become concerned about the dairy industry and tried to undertake real reform. The ACCC report in 2018 clearly identified that there was a market imbalance. Their recommendation to us was to introduce a dairy code of conduct. That is what we did. That is what we are doing, along with complementary measures to make sure that there is equity in that market. But to come in here and to make rash statements is unwise. It's unhealthy, and it's reckless.