Katter’s Australian Party State (KAP) MPs have today launched a scathing attack on Labor and the LNP for politicising the plight of struggling Queensland farmers to win favour with voters.
State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said he was furious that after years of silence and repeated refusal to back KAP legislation designed to save farmers’ livelihoods, Labor and the LNP were now claiming to be champions of the dairy industry.
“For many years, the KAP – and most especially KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth – have been the lone wolves on this issue,” he said.
“Shane has attempted twice to introduce legislation that would make sure milk was clearly labelled to indicate that farmers are getting a fair price for their product at the farm gate – but it has been knocked back by the major parties every time.
“We are fed up with seeing major parties, particularly the LNP and Nationals, walk arm in arm with dairy farmers screaming we will help you, then they go into Parliament and continually vote against bills that are endorsed by the dairy industry.
“If they really want to help the industry, they can start by convincing their federal colleagues to implement a minimum farm gate price for milk, based state by state.
“Twice the Federal Government have now voted against this, which defies logic or belief.
“You only need to take a short walk back in history to see Labor and the LNP’s form on the dairy industry.”
Mr Katter’s comments follow news today that the LNP will launch a parliamentary petition demanding a review of Queensland Health’s decision to award a milk supply contract to overseas companies (that buy and sell Queensland milk), as opposed to Maleny Dairies.
“The KAP have raised on several occasions that the State Government’s local procurement policy is seriously flawed,” he said.
“We would always prefer an Aussie-owned company gets a go ahead before one from overseas, however these companies are still buying milk from Queensland farmers and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
“Instead of getting bogged down in all this drama, the milk debate should zero in on ensuring local and international processors and major supermarkets are providing Queensland dairy farmers a fair price for the milk they produce – this point has been entirely forgotten and it’s tragic.”
The current dairy debate follows many years of efforts from the KAP to intervene in the state’s growing crisis.
In both 2013 and 2016, Mr Knuth made legislative efforts in the Queensland Parliament to set up a state-wide logo scheme (similar to the “Australian made” logo scheme) that would prove to consumers a dairy farmer had been paid a fair price for the milk product they are purchasing.
Mr Knuth’s scheme would have used logos to indicate the region of origin for milk products and would have indicated where fair prices had been paid to dairy farmers for their milk.
Further, the KAP scheme would have established a mechanism for setting fair prices and offences for particular conduct in relation to the logos.
Unfortunately, those efforts went nowhere as both Labor and the LNP voted against the bills on both occasions.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the logo scheme would have given consumers more confidence knowing they were supporting brands and processors that paid a fair price per litre.
“The public have shown in recent years they are more than willing to support dairy brands and processors who pay our farmers properly,” he said.
“Shane and the KAP fought long and hard and it is disgraceful that both Labor and the LNP voted it down.
“The major parties couldn’t care less about our struggling dairy industry; they twice had the opportunity at a state-level to show their support and back the KAP’s bills.”