Katter’s collective milk bargain call
I NDEPENDENT MP Bob Katter wants to give dairy farmers the right to collectively bargain farm milk prices with supermarket giants Co les and Wool - worths.
Mr Katter, the federal MP for Kennedy, said he would draft legislation to provide dairy farmers with the right to collectively bargain in the same way as wage earners covered by awards were allowed to bargain with their employer.
‘‘ Both sides of politics will be exposed for the hypocrites they are if they don’t back this legislation,’’ Mr Katter said. ‘‘ The ALP won government on the right to collec- tively bargain through an arbitration commission ( called) Fair Work Australia.
‘‘ The National Party, which pulled the trigger of deregulation that assassinated the dairy industry, are already arch-hypocrites parading themselves as a farmers’ party but they’re actually the anti-farmers’ party, having deregulated everything up to the eyeballs.’’
Mr Katter said when five or six thousand dairy farmers negotiated against two buyers controlling 85 per cent of Australia’s food market there would not be an economic book that would not describe that as an oligopoly and anything but a free market.
‘‘ When the dairy industry was deregulated on July 1, 2000, farmers’ incomes were cut on the day by more than 30 per cent, while the price to consumers within two years went up nearly 40 per cent,’’ he said.
‘‘ This great tragedy exposed t he overwhelming number of parliamentarians who were rabid free traders, shamefully maybe even more in the Labor Party than in the Coalition.’’