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.