Media release

Critical Vote Lost Because of Heartless Politicians

The Leader of the Senate for the United Australia Party, Senator Brian Burston today said that it was disappointing that ALP, LNP and Pauline Hanson didn’t vote for urgent assistance for our Australian dairy farmers.

Senator Burston proposed that large grocery retailers apply a surcharge to milk to assist drought-affected dairy farmers.

Senator Burston expressed gratitude to Senator Barry Sullivan who crossed the floor today plus support from Senators Anning, Patrick, Griff and Georgio who agree the plight of the dairy farmers needs to be addressed.

“This issue is real and dairy farming businesses tragically will fail if prices are not increased for the period the drought impacts on feed prices,” Senator Burston said.

Dairy Farmers are locked into forward price contracts more than any other farmer with very little financial leeway. Typically farm commodity prices increase in response to drought but this is not so with milk pricing.

Senator Burston outlined that milk has been used as a loss leader for many years by Coles and Woolworths and this pressure on milk processors has been kicked down the line and stops with the actual milk producer – the dairy farmer. Dairy farmers are currently in a precarious financial position, now also impacted heavily by the drought.

Much like a phone contract, locked for months at a contracted fixed price, dairy prices are locked into forward position. Dairy farmers entered into the contract not knowing that input prices would increase by over 100% due to severe drought.

Senator Burston is worried these increases will only get worse for many more months.

“Coles and Woolworths drive the market. Their drought contributions to date is welcomed, however these contributions will be sullied if dairy farmers businesses fail due to the increasing cost of feed and the cap on the contract price received,” said Senator Burston.

“Very few small businesses could contemplate cost increases of over 100% to total cost of production, yet this is the case for Dairy farmers. Coles and Woolworth will be filled with excuses for why this is not their problem, yet it clearly is. The impact on dairy farmers is real and needs to be dealt with,” Senator Burston said.

“Dairy farmers under drought duress. This is about farmers being squeezed by unfair contracts in the light of drought-driven feed price increases. I will continue to champion for change and I will pursue my colleagues to get on board, their complacency confounds me.

“I hope all of the Senator reconsider and join in the task of helping Australian dairy farmers,” Senator Burston said.