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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12228

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (19:36): I rise to speak in support of the honourable member for McMillan's motion that reads:

That this House notes the importance of the dairy industry to the health and well being of Australia.

It is a simple statement but it is one that encapsulates correctly the sentiments about an industry that is of critical importance to our economy, particularly to our rural agricultural base. As we have heard, it is the third largest rural industry in Australia, employing over 40,000 people directly and indirectly.

It is also an industry that is steeped in history, in particular in my home area in the Northern Rivers and my home town of Lismore. Lismore is home to Norco Co-operative Ltd. That is a co-op that is 100 per cent farmer owned and has been in operation since 1895. Now in its 116th year, I am pleased to report that it is still going strong and has been able to rise to all the challenges that it has faced. In the co-op's own words, it says that it has been subject to challenges and a stimulating environment but it has had many successes. With other members' indulgence, I want to read into the public record in Hansard something from the 2010 Norco annual report out of its corporate profile. I read it and thought of different ways I could paraphrase it, but Norco says it so well that I just think it is important to have that on the record. It says:

Norco is a name that is synonymous with the manufacture of quality dairy and other food products such as milk, ice cream and stick lines at three factory locations under the Norco Foods business unit. Norco Foods also retails the range of Nimbin Natural cheese—

which I have in my fridge. I have a lot of Norco products in my fridge—

which is a successful and growing brand for the co-operative. Norco also has a Rural Retail business unit operating 24 rural stores in Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland. This business unit also operates a wholesale division at Darra in Brisbane servicing the needs of other rural businesses along the east coast of Australia.

I think Darra might be in Oxley, is it?

Mr Ripoll: It is, yes.

Ms SAFFIN: I had to think then! Growing up in Ipswich, I know Darra; I was just getting the honourable member for Oxley's attention!

Norco also operates an agribusiness division incorporating Goldmix Stockfeeds, Crest Seeds and Meaty Bites that manufacture quality stockfeed, birdseed products and pet food. With 260 active shareholders in 165 dairy farms Norco has a membership capital base of six million and an annual revenue of $351 million. The board has seven directors and the chairman of the board is Greg McNamara who does a brilliant job and has been the chair for quite a few years. He makes sure that that e cooperative stays in good health. I pay tribute, as well, to Brett Kelly, the CEO.

The 2009-10 financial year, which is the one reported on in the most recent annual report, has been, as Norco say, 'stimulating and challenging'. They have undergone the knock-on effects from the global financial crisis which continue to be felt both domestically and internationally. They also say that the focus for 2009-10 financial year was to reduce debt and expenses, and they have done that. They have increased their profitability and have a record improvement of 12.8 per cent over the 2008-09 financial year. That is a real credit to their operations.

The area in which I live was locked out of the Sydney milk market for a long time. I pay tribute to a Labor minister, Don Day, who is a local member and got us into the Sydney milk market. He was respected by everyone on all sides. He was a very good minister and was very able. It was his efforts that got us into that market, and it made a big difference to our area. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.