Fin­ger pointed at super­mar­kets

The Gympie Times - - NEWS - SCOTT KOVACEVIC scott.kovacevic@gympi­etimes.com

WHILE milk pro­ces­sors had re­spon­si­bil­ity in the cheap milk wars, MP Llew O’Brien has stressed ma­jor super­mar­kets must not be given a get out jail free card.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished this week about Fed­eral Agri­cul­tural Min­is­ter David Lit­tleprouds’ call for a boy­cott of su­per­mar­ket-branded milk, QUT as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Gary Mor­timer said the idea was “mis­guided”.

Point­ing to the find­ings of the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion’s re­port into cheap milk, Prof Mor­timer said calls for a royal com­mis­sion into cheap milk “would not be money well spent” as the re­port found no di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween the fixed re­tail prices and what’s paid at the farm gate.

This is a point Mr O’Brien, a vo­cal sup­porter of a royal com­mis­sion into the ma­jor re­tail­ers’ treat­ment of sup­pli­ers, dis­putes.

“How do you say it doesn’t af­fect far­m­gate prices when, when ($1 milk) was in­tro­duced, Par­malat took 3c (per litre) off straight away to com­pen­sate for the con­tract?” he said.

And this mar­ket im­pact of was also in the re­port.

“(It) clearly states $1 milk then keeps down­ward pres­sure on branded milk,” Mr O’Brien said.

“They’re priced lower than they should be to com­pen­sate.

“That’s like say­ing the drug traf­ficker doesn’t have a di­rect im­pact on drug ad­dicts – it’s the sup­plier that sold it to him that’s the real bad­die.

“Well hang on, what about the guy who brought three tonnes of it into the coun­try? “It’s strange logic.”

And while Prof Mor­timer said pro­ces­sors may be where the prob­lem lies, Mr O’Brien said this was giv­ing an easy ex­cuse for peo­ple to avoid look­ing at the super­mar­kets’ in­flu­ence.

“Pro­ces­sors hold a level of re­spon­si­bil­ity, but their be­hav­iour is fa­cil­i­ated by the su­per­mar­ket,” he said.

“Imag­ine if it was any­thing else that had a cap put on for seven years? Imag­ine if they did $4 beef ? The whole in­dus­try would go bust.”

Photo: Re­nee Al­brecht

Llew O'Brien.

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