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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 738

Mr BROADBENT (10:30 AM) —Murray Goulburn in my electorate have a very diverse customer base through exports and their local base. Having regard to what I said about the plight of dairy farmers last week, it is very important that we recognise that the farmers in Western Australia and perhaps some in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales are under direct threat from the price of milk being at $1. They are under direct threat because they do not have another market to sell into. They sell into the current milk market for consumption within Australia.

Only a few years ago, the major supermarkets said to Murray Goulburn, ‘Your Devondale cheese only has 17 per cent of the market; you’re out of here.’ Murray Goulburn said: ‘Fine. We are big enough and diverse enough. We will take our product out of your supermarket and we will sell to the independents and we will export it.’ And that is exactly what they did. The problem is this: if you are a farmer who is not connected to a major exporter that has a diverse range of opportunities for supplying the world, you are probably already finished if we have regard to what the two major supermarkets have decided to do.

I heard the Coles spokesman. I heard what he said about supplying the consumer with the best price, being competitive in the market and all of those sorts of things. But sometimes what we think is about to happen has actually already happened. What has already happened is that Coles have decided that milk in the litre line is going to be $1 in perpetuity. Therefore, they are condemning those farmers that now supply that milk market to oblivion. That has probably already happened. You are probably already gone if you are supplying that market and you are unable to diversify what you are selling.

I think this is a tragedy. I think the family farm is very important. I think that supplying fresh milk to our families and our children is very important in those states. What will they be doing in future? They will probably be buying it from Murray Goulburn in great truckloads and carting it interstate as the base milk product. The only answer is us as a collegiate of parliamentarians addressing the major problem. And that is that we have two major supermarkets supplying the market. That is a much bigger issue than that of the plight of dairy farmers, who are caught in between. (Time expired)