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Monday, 25 June 2001
Page: 25026

Senator WOODLEY (8:12 PM) —I have listened carefully to the minister and I understand the government's reticence at this point, but the reason I am supporting the opposition's amendment and have proposed my own is that the evidence was very strong. The interesting thing is that the evidence came from the industry, and particularly from the Queensland Dairy Organisation. The submission from them was signed by Mike Prendergast, the CEO of that organisation, whose chair is Pat Rowley, who was the architect of the original package. If anyone would know where the flaws are in the original package, it is certainly the QDO, Pat Rowley and Mike Prendergast.

While I hear what the minister is saying, I do not think those two persons are irresponsible. In fact, they proposed that the bottom figure be 18 per cent. So in proposing 25 per cent I can hear what the minister is saying, but I am not persuaded to fall back from this amendment. I might add that the peak body in South Australia supported the proposition as well. I am not sure what figure they put on it but they certainly criticised the 35 per cent. I spoke to farmers in New South Wales who also supported the fact that 35 per cent was just too high. That includes people from the Australian Milk Producers Association, AMPA. Across the industry—not just individual farmers but across the industry—those peak bodies that were intimately involved in the formation of the original package have come to us and put a very convincing case for the 35 per cent to be lowered. I have been prepared to fall back from the 18 per cent and go with the opposition's 25 per cent as the lower threshold. But the industry itself was seeking a lower threshold than the 25 per cent, so I am not sure that we can go any lower than that. Whilst not wanting to hold up the committee, I thought I would just offer that in the debate.

Can I indicate that when I said that I would not put my amendments listed in that first section of the running sheet, those are my amendments Nos 1 to 4. My amendment No. 5 deals with another issue, and I would need to put that after we have dealt with these particular amendments.