In­quiry into dairy in­dus­try to un­cover in­equities

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS -

DEPUTY Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources Barn­aby Joyce an­nounced that an Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion (ACCC) in­quiry into the na­tional dairy in­dus­try is set to take place in Novem­ber.

Fed­eral Trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son will re­quest the ACCC to un­der­take an in­quiry un­der Part VIIA of the Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Act 2010 which will give the Com­mis­sion pow­ers to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion from com­pa­nies to in­ves­ti­gate.

In an­nounc­ing the in­quiry at a re­cent Dairy Sym­po­sium, Min­is­ter Joyce said the na­tion’s dairy farm­ers de­serve fair re­turns at the farm gate, as well as trans­parency in milk price ar­range­ments and sup­ply con­tracts.

“An in-depth and in­de­pen­dent in­quiry is a thor­ough and fair way to un­cover in­ef­fi­cien­cies and in­equities that our farm­ers face – and iden­tify a way for­ward,” he said.

“I en­cour­age ev­ery­one in the dairy in­dus­try to con­trib­ute to the in­quiry – there will be con­fi­den­tial­ity ar­range­ments in place to en­sure the ACCC gets the in­for­ma­tion it needs while pro­tect­ing com­mer­cial in­ter­ests.”

Min­is­ter Joyce said the sym­po­sium was a chance to get key stake­hold­ers to­gether to fa­cil­i­tate in­dus­try-led op­tions to ad­dress chal­lenges fac­ing the Aus­tralian dairy in­dus­try and dis­cuss ways to im­prove the in­dus­try’s prospects go­ing for­ward.

“Re­cent events have shown there is a need for the in­dus­try to bet­ter bal­ance risk along the dairy sup­ply chain, es­pe­cially when it comes to man­ag­ing the ef­fects of lower world prices.

“Ul­ti­mately, I want to see im­proved farm gate re­turns for dairy farm­ers, an open­ness in milk price ar­range­ments and fair and trans­par­ent milk sup­ply con­tracts.

“This can only hap­pen if there is buy-in from in­dus­try and a will­ing­ness from key stake­hold­ers to hear each other out and de­velop so­lu­tions to­gether.

“The Coali­tion gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to work with our dairy farm­ers and pro­ces­sors to strengthen the dairy in­dus­try, in­clud­ing our elec­tion com­mit­ment of up to $2 mil­lion to es­tab­lish a com­mod­ity milk price in­dex.

“The sym­po­sium pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for stake­hold­ers to put for­ward early views on this,” Min­is­ter Joyce said.

The ACCC will re­lease an is­sues pa­per and en­gage with stake­hold­ers through pub­lic and pri­vate hear­ings, and writ­ten sub­mis­sions to de­liver a fi­nal re­port to gov­ern­ment in the sec­ond half of 2017.

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