Thursday, 5 December 2019
Thank you very much. The truth hurts. And the facts are that it's all leaning towards the processors because the legislation has changed. If that causes them to lose profits, they can then change the price. So my bill was about giving a fair farmgate price to the farmers that was to be determined by the ACCC investigation. It was also to make sure that the processors had to divest if they had too much control of the market in their area. The other thing was the mandatory code of conduct. The minister said no-one asked for this, not one person asked for a fair farmgate price.
Senator McKenzie interjecting—
Well, isn't it funny, I actually had representatives from the Queensland and New South Wales dairy industries come into my office. I've got a letter that states 'we want a farmgate price for milk'. That's what they're asking for. The say they want a price for milk. The Queensland Dairyfarmers actually represent 78 per cent of the dairy farmers in Queensland. The number of dairy farmers in Queensland has dropped from 1,500 down to just over 300. At the moment, we're losing a dairy farmer a week. This has not just happened since the drought; this is prior to it. As I said, we had milk production at 12 billion litres a year in 2000 down to eight billion litres a year now. If Australians think this will get better, it won't.
Under this government, run by the Nationals, Senator McKenzie as the agriculture minister is running the dairy industry into the ground. I just think that the government responses to this are pathetic. They're only doing this because of pressure from One Nation, no other reason. That is why the ACCC has followed up Coles. There has been a lot of public support for me to push this. The Australian people do want to support the dairy industry. Australian people want to drink Australian milk, not have the Chinese buying up our dairy farms here and exporting the milk overseas. They are getting from $9 a litre up to $15 a litre for our milk. We will see ourselves importing milk from New Zealand if we are not careful or we will be drinking long-life milk. There's no reason.
When Senator McKenzie talks about wool prices and the problems there, that is a totally different issue. This has nothing to do with wool prices. That's the government's only excuse for it—a pathetic one. We need to support the dairy farmers. I wish they would really understand. I want to know: what's the real reason for this? They're backing the big multinationals; they are backing the big processors. All the processors are actually foreign owned and don't pay taxes here in this country. So support our dairy farmers. If not, get out of the way and let someone who will.