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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14195


Mr LLEW O'BRIEN (Wide Bay) (10:33): I welcome the end of Woolworths' $1 milk price. While 20c more for a two-litre bottle of milk is only a very small change, it's a huge change for dairy farmers and it's a massive change for the milk industry. Woolworths has acted responsibly by moving the $1 milk price cap, helping dairy farmers to get a better return for their product. Many people said it wouldn't be done and that $1 milk was here to stay. But, with the farmers and the dairy organisations, we persisted. I listened to my local dairy farmers and took the fight to the big retailers. This move by Woolworths shows that—through the work of the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation and their members in shining a light on the devastating impacts of $1 milk, my speeches in parliament and the resolve of my National Party colleagues—Woolworths has listened and acted.

In my maiden speech, I said:

When it comes to agriculture big business needs to play fair. The Coles and Woolies milk price war has had a devastating effect on farmers, who deserve to receive a fair price for their product.

I've always said that retail influences the value of the supply chain and, in order for dairy farmers to be paid more, the artificial cap on the price of milk has to go. Woolworths' cessation of this involvement in the milk price war is not a silver bullet, but it's a very welcome step and it's certainly a step in the right direction. When I took a look at the issue, Coles and Woolworths were locked in this battle of brinkmanship, which began back in 2011, leaving farmers all the poorer. After many meetings with dairy farmers, industry groups and Woolworths, we finally have a breakthrough. This move by Woolworths, combined with the Liberal-National government's mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry, puts dairy farmers in a better position, but there'll still more work to do.

Now that Woolworths is removing $1 milk from their shelves, Coles and Aldi have to follow suit. They have nowhere to hide on this. It's time for Coles and Aldi to look after their dairy farmers—remove the $1-milk price cap and pay them a fair price. The dairy industry has been decimated by the farmgate price and by drought. We can't control the weather, but Woolworths has demonstrated that the retailers have the capacity to influence farmgate prices by paying an extra 10 cents per litre directly to the farmer. I commend Woolworths for taking this first step and I encourage everyone to support dairy farmers by shopping at Woolworths.