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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1569

Mr BUCHHOLZ (1:57 PM) —I rise to protect the interests of and stand up and represent the dairy farmers in my electorate, I rise to protect my corner shops, cafes and milk bars and I rise to protect milk vendors who have recorded up to 30 per cent decreases in route trades. In the electorate of Wright these are uncertain times with the current situation of Coles pushing two litres of milk for $2. The uncertainty of the market is due to a direct push by the retailers to gain market share in the grocery sector. Whilst we operate in a free market and it is the right of any company to turn a profit, those lines should be funded by profits and not at the hands of smaller business. We as a nation have the protection mechanisms in place to stop big business from pushing out small business. This protection is provided by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010—previously the Trade Practices Act—under section 46A(1) Misuse of market power.

I will not accept any throwaway comments by John Durkan, Coles merchandise director, that:

Coles has no direct influence over farm gate prices because Coles buys milk from processing companies, not from dairy farmers.

He knows that when he starts negotiating with our processors the downward pressure on those prices will end up with lesser prices at our farm gates. Last week I had two meetings with Coles and I made several phone calls to the Queensland dairy farmers’ organisations. As recently as Saturday, I visited the Dennis family’s dairy farm in my electorate. They are struggling to make ends meet.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being approximately 2 pm, members’ statements are interrupted.