Thursday, 20 September 2018
I and on behalf of Senator Rice, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) the ACCC made a number of recommendations with the goal of addressing a large imbalance in bargaining power between farmers and processors, one of which was recommendation 8: a mandatory code of conduct within the act should be established for the dairy industry;
(b) acknowledges that:
(i) the industry has taken the initiative to self-regulate by implementing a voluntary code of conduct,
(ii) while this is a positive step, the ACCC sees the need for a mandatory code, as opposed to a voluntary code, for the following reasons:
(A) it is difficult to monitor compliance with a voluntary code,
(B) there are no consequences for breaching a voluntary code,
(C) not all processors in the industry are signatories to the voluntary code, and
(D) strengthening the voluntary code may result in non-signatories being less likely to sign up, and
(iii) under a mandatory code, by comparison, the ACCC would have the power to take enforcement action for non-compliance against parties that are subject to the code – remedies would include injunctions, damages, non-punitive orders and other compensatory orders; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to prioritise the implementation of a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry, in line with the ACCC's recommendations.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
First up, I want to acknowledge Garry Kerr from Farmer Power and Shaughn Morgan from Dairy Connect, who have advocated strongly on behalf of dairy farmers and made sure we in the parliament are aware of all the issues facing regional Australia. I also want to note that, while it won't solve the wider structural issues facing the dairy industry, Woolworths today announced they'll be adding 10c a litre to the price of milk to be directed straight to drought-affected farmers. It is, I believe, a testament to our community that many shoppers around the country—city and country—are happy to cop that small extra charge to help those people who work hard every day to keep the milk industry alive in Australia. Farmers I have spoken to have told me that every cent helps during these difficult times.
The coalition strongly supports the Australian dairy farmers and the Australian dairy industry. Dairy farmers have made clear their desire for a mandatory code. The government is actively developing its response.
Labor strongly supports this motion. The ACCC recommended the establishment of a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry in April this year. Sadly, the Turnbull-Morrison government has chosen not to prioritise the recommendation and has essentially abandoned the dairy industry. Labor supports the establishment of the mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry and condemns the chaotic and dysfunctional Turnbull-Morrison government for not prioritising the implementation of the code.
One Nation will be supporting this. But I find it quite ironic that it was only Thursday of last week that I moved a motion on the floor of this parliament with regard to the dairy industry, and it was not supported by the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Labor Party or some of the crossbenchers. The Greens did support me on that motion last week, which was pretty much in line with what's put here today. So what's happened over this last week? I'm glad that Senator Hinch, who voted against my motion last week, has now moved this motion on the dairy industry.
Question agreed to.