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Milked dry

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MILKED DRY WHAT: Media conference with Senator Nick Xenophon.

WHEN: 1pm today (Adelaide time).

WHERE: Outside, 31 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide.

 Move to amend unfair contract laws to restrict ‘claw backs’

 Murray Goulburn dairy farmers should consider calling an Extraordinary General Meeting of

their co-op  Call for Free Milk for Schools program to make a comeback to help both kids and dairy


On the day that the PM and Deputy PM are meeting board members of Murray Goulburn, Senator Nick Xenophon has called for an urgent review of unfair contract laws to prevent the ‘claw back’ that has brought so many dairy farmers to their knees.

“Current unfair contract laws don’t appear to give protection to those dairy farmers who made decision in good faith, based on forecasts and statements by Murray Goulburn management, only to find they are in deep debt because of the ‘claw back provisions’. It is unfair an unconscionable that they are in this position,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon, together with Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, will draft changes to the Competition and Consumer Act to give more protection for farmers hit by claw back clauses.

Senator Xenophon has also pledged his support for Murray Goulburn farmers, who as members of the co-operative, have the right to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting of Murray Goulburn.

“An EGM would force the entire board and management to answer questions such as why, with so many farmers doing it tough, profits in the tens of millions are being retained and dividends paid to investors. It will also give an opportunity for the members to direct the Board and hold them accountable,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon and Ms Sharkie have also called for an urgent feasibility study of bringing back the school milk program for primary school students as a “double benefit for both children and dairy farmers”.

“The school milk program was abandoned in the 1980s but it’s time we brought it back - a trial in South Australian schools would be a good start,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon and Ms Sharkie restated the calls they made during the election campaign for the government to urgently consider the following measures:

 An emergency temporary levy on milk to ensure farmers can return to sustainability, as well

as measures to prevent foreclosures.  A high-level urgent independent inquiry to examine the systemic problems in the sector and

to develop a long-term Plan to bring the industry back to prosperity.  Changing competition and corporate governmental laws to give protection to dairy farmers

from abuses of market power and unconscionable behaviour.  The government to buy milk powder to be used as foreign aid.

“Clearly the concessional loans offered by the government a few weeks ago haven’t worked as intended with only one loan being approved and 48 others being considered,” Nick said. “Unless the sorts of measures that have been proposed are implemented there is a real risk of hundreds of dairy farmers walking off the land in despair, and the future of the entire industry being at stake.”

Senator Xenophon was an initiator of a Senate Inquiry into the Dairy Industry in 2011 after Coles slashed the price of milk on Australia Day 2011.

For more information contact Karina Natt 0433 620 850