Ef­fects test needs real teeth

Dairy News Australia - - OPINION - BRIAN TESS­MANN • Brian Tess­mann is Pres­i­dent of the Queens­land Dairy­farm­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

FOL­LOW­ING THE long awaited and fought for pas­sage of the ‘ef­fects test’ leg­is­la­tion through the Se­nate, there are many now ask­ing where we go from here. Farm­ers right­fully want to know what the Gov­ern­ment is in­tend­ing to do to progress the test from pa­per into ac­tion. Ques­tions still re­main on what ex­actly this new power will look like and when or whether it will ad­dress the is­sues dairy farm­ers have raised time and time again. A mul­ti­tude of in­dus­tries in­clud­ing dairy are look­ing to the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion Con­sumer Com­mis­sion (ACCC) to act upon un­fair mar­ket prac­tices. As one of the strong­est ad­vo­cates for the test, Queens­land Dairy­farm­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (QDO) see it as a ma­jor com­po­nent in a range of leg­is­lated safe­guards and in­dus­try au­tho­rised prac­tice changes needed to im­prove mar­ket fair­ness is­sues af­fect­ing trade be­tween re­tail­ers, pro­ces­sors and farm­ers. For the dairy in­dus­try, the test should be most use­ful for mar­ket is­sues oc­cur­ring be­tween pro­ces­sors and re­tail­ers. If ap­plied prop­erly it should also ben­e­fit fur­ther down the value chain. It is now up to the ACCC to be vig­or­ous on is­sues such as preda­tory pric­ing, in par­tic­u­lar be­tween brands where the mar­ket is the su­per­mar­ket shelf. For ex­am­ple, how is it not preda­tory to sell one brand on the shelf with lit­tle or no mark up, yet set sig­nif­i­cantly marked up prices on com­pet­ing brands? While any­one can raise com­plaints, it is up to the ACCC to take ac­tion and act upon the pow­ers leg­is­la­tion gives them. With the ex­cep­tion of a few large com­pa­nies, most mem­bers and or­gan­i­sa­tions in the dairy in­dus­try do not have the where­withal to do this. Farm­ers are re­ly­ing on the ACCC to ful­fil this role. As the fi­nal touches are be­ing put on the ‘ef­fects test’ reg­u­la­tion and guide­lines, the mes­sage from Queens­land dairy farm­ers is to get the job done promptly and prop­erly.

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