Dairy Australia awards $312k in bonuses; spends $10k on coffee machine.

DAIRY Australia’s outgoing managing director Ian Halliday was paid $773,375 last year, including $312,000 in bonuses, more than three times the performance-based remuneration he received four years ago.

The farmer levy-backed marketing and research organisation also installed a $10,000 coffee machine in its Southbank headquarters, despite being surrounded by cafes, including one in the foyer of its Melbourne building.

A Dairy Australia spokeswoman said most of Mr Halliday’s increase was due to the payment of $312,000 in bonuses, on top of his base pay and superannuation of $461,375.

The financials state Mr Halliday was paid “a short-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent of his remuneration package per annum and a long-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent per annum”.

Mr Halliday’s bonuses had climbed steadily from $102,000 in 2014-15, to $168,000 in 2015-16 and then $235,000 in 2016-17 before hitting $312,000 last year.

Dairy Australia’s cash splash on its managing director was made despite dairy farmer incomes and confidence crashing over recent years as they battled to survive in acost-price squeeze that is forcing many out of the industry.

The annual National Dairy Farmer Survey has shown the proportion of farmers who feel “positive” or “very positive” about the future has slumped from 75 per cent in 2014, to just 47 per cent early last year.

The situation has grown worse in the past 12 months as feed and water prices skyrocketed with the latest survey, conducted in February this year, showing confidence has slumped to an all-time low.

“It indicates confidence is down (to) 30 per cent and a large percentage of businesses are in a holding pattern or are looking to contract,” Murray Dairy chief executive officer Jenny Wilson said.

Ms Wilson referred The Weekly Times to Dairy Australia for details of the survey, but a spokeswoman said it would not be released until the corporation issued its Situation and Outlook Report on June 19. What is clear is just how devastating the dairy crisis has become, especially in northern Victoria and the Riverina, where farmer numbers are down to 900, compared with 2800 in 2000-01.

Over that time regional milk production has fallen from 3.3 billion to 1.8 billion ­litres, with production in southern NSW and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District forecast to be down by another 20 per cent by the end of this season. Dairy Australia’s2017-18 annual report stated remuneration for directors and Mr Halliday was externally benchmarked against general market data, but the levy-funded body refused to detail that market data.

In regard to the $10,000 coffee machine The Weekly Times asked: why did Dairy Australia spend such a sum, when Southbank was saturated with cafes, one of which is in the foyer of the 40 City Rd building?

A spokeswoman responded by stating: “Dairy Australia is focused on attracting and retaining people with the right talent and skills we need to best support Australia’s dairy industry. This extends to providing a safe, positive and productive working environment for our employees and increasing the functionality of our offices as a collaborative space.”

Dairy Australia has in recent years been plagued with occupational health and safety complaints.

These led to a third of its staff leaving last year, with one case making it all the way to the WorkCover Division of the Victorian Magistrate’s Court last year.

Details of the judgment are unavailable, but a number of disgruntled staff left Dairy Australia in 2017-18 in frustration at the failure to deal with OH&S issues.

Source: Peter Hunt - The Weekly Times