Senate debates

Monday, 4 December 2017

Questions without Notice

Dairy Industry

2:59 pm

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator McKenzie. I understand and know your strong support for the third-largest agricultural sector in our country, the dairy industry, which produces more than $3½ billion across Australia but is especially strong in the senator's home state of Victoria. It also supports 42,000 Australians. We are a big supporter of the dairy industry. It has been a tough year and a bit for the dairy industry, suffering price falls on world markets and issues with domestic pricing. The Australian government has done what it can to support our dairy farmers through these difficult times.

Last year, we announced a $579 million dairy support package for the sector. I can inform the Senate that, to now, $161 million in concessional loans has been put out the door to help our farmers get back on their feet through these difficult times. It's good to see that prices are starting to rise now. Just last week, we engaged a provider to deliver the milk price index that we announced as part of the support package. That will provide greater transparency to dairy farmers so they can appropriately price and try to avoid the situation we saw last year with Murray Goulburn. Of course, over the last few years, the government has concluded free trade agreements with many countries in our region. That's of great support to our dairy sector. The Chinese agreement in particular was a great opportunity and boon, and hopefully now, as prices are recovering in the world, the full opportunities of that will start to translate. We announced an ACCC inquiry into the dairy market. An interim report was released last week. Also, I recognise the work that Senator McKenzie has done, getting out into her community and engaging with a number of round tables and discussions through these processes. All of that has helped inform the government response. While it is a tough time, we are doing what we can to assist our farmers through these tough years.


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