Senate: get the ACCC to fix it

I can see why the Senate delayed its report into the dairy industry: it has no meaningful solutions. But it does seem pretty sure that the two main responses to the crisis – a voluntary code of practice and milk price index – aren’t the answers either.

The report makes 12 recommendations and four of them are simply to ask the ACCC to act on the most pressing issues.

Two recommendations suggest reviewing the code of conduct, with a view to making it mandatory.

There are other pretty darn obvious ones like suggesting a consumer campaign and asking processors to set prudent opening prices to avoid step downs.

The standout is Recommendation 11:
“The committee considers that the proposed Dairy Commodity Price Index is of limited value and its development should not be continued.”

The government is in the process of assessing tenders for a $2 million project to produce the index. That’s a lot of taxpayer money and I would hate to see it wasted, or worse, used to wallpaper over the cracks in the system.

The Senate inquiry has identified the issues we face. That’s a good start. Let’s hope the committee’s faith in the ACCC being able to solve them is well placed.


4 thoughts on “Senate: get the ACCC to fix it

  1. 15 months since Fonterra’s step down, and Fonterra still doesn’t admit it acted retrospectively. Everyone else – authorities, governments and farmers – knows the step downs were retrospective. Multiple ACCC and Senate reviews later it seems clear that there’s no reversal or compensation for Fonterra’s step down and no decisive confirmation that it was illegal. What’s to stop 2016 repeating itself? Nothing, unless farmers take legal action. That would change processors’ attitudes. Right now, Fonterra is still insisting it needs the right to have late season step downs effecting the full year price. Farmers can have the right and the possibility stand up for themselves, actually with minimal effort, by their own legal action. A small group of farmers is asking our lawfirm to run a case, but more farmers support will make the case stronger and likely to happen. Our legal group is 175 years old, comprising Victoria’s oldest rural and regional lawfirm, and is offering to conduct the case without requiring up front payment of legal fees, on a no win no fee arrangement because we as lawyers believe it will win. After all, as Dairy Connect noted, in the Senate report, “When you ask the processor, ‘Is this contract or agreement legal?’ they basically come back and say, ‘Well, nobody has contested it.’ That is basically because we are all individual farmers and we do not have the capacity or the strength to go out there and challenge multinational companies and other large companies that want to stand by these agreements”.

    Well – farmers’ opportunity for a challenge and to MAKE A CHANGE can exist:

    It’s now up to farmers to take action by completing a simple online form, or do nothing (but then be less shocked when a processor implements the next claw back, whether it’s in May 2018, May 2019, or some other time).


  2. Marian, yours is the first honest response I have seen in print so far and 100% on the mark. For those who do not watch it I recommend UTOPIA on ABC Wednesday night at 9. It really shows you how Government works and although as you say; recommendation 11 is correct there is no doubt that it will go ahead. Government is no longer about achieving real outcomes it is about looking like it is doing something without actually doing it.
    Utopia shows this every week, it would be great comedy if it wasn’t so true!!


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