Push for a com­pul­sory code

Central Queensland News - - RURAL WEEKLY - Peter Hem­phill and Si­mone Smith news@ru­ral­weekly.com

INTRANSIGENT be­hav­iour by some milk pro­ces­sors has prompted the Australian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion to push for a manda­tory dairy code of con­duct.

A vol­un­tary code of con­duct was in­tro­duced by the dairy in­dus­try last year in the af­ter­math of 2015-16 far­m­gate milk price cuts but the ACCC be­lieves the is­sues raised in its 226-page Dairy In­quiry in­terim re­port re­leased this week were se­ri­ous enough to make it com­pul­sory for pro­ces­sors to sign up to a new code within the Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Act 2010.

ACCC agri­cul­tural com­mis­sioner Mick Keogh said the vol­un­tary code of con­duct had changed some pro­ces­sors’ be­hav­iour, but be­cause there was noth­ing that re­quired them to change, some had con­tin­ued with be­hav­iours such as the “anti-com­pet­i­tive” loy­alty pay­ments.

“The is­sue we have is that when you look at the vol­un­tary code, it is not manda­tory and it does not have any penal­ties or in­deed any mech­a­nism to iden­tify whether or not a par­tic­u­lar par­tic­i­pant in the in­dus­try is in breach of that con­tract,” he said.

“When you look at that you think: well, yes, be­hav­iour has changed.

“The ques­tion we have is whether that is more a per­ma­nent thing or whether a manda­tory code would be needed to make sure some of those changes be­come more per­ma­nent and some other changes also come about which we have sug­gested in the re­port.”

The ACC said the manda­tory code could in­clude obli­ga­tions on pro­ces­sors to en­ter into writ­ten con­tracts for milk sup­ply.

It might also in­clude re­quir­ing pro­ces­sors to pro­vide timely and trans­par­ent in­for­ma­tion about the terms of those con­tracts, such as an in­come es­ti­ma­tion re­source guid­ance and com­mit­ments re­gard­ing price changes dur­ing a sea­son for non-fixed price con­tracts.

PHOTO: FILE

CHANGES: ACCC will push for a manda­tory dairy code of con­duct.

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