By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
Disappointment and bewilderment sum up the reaction from local dairy farmers after the Parliamentary committee report into the Fair Milk Price Logo Bill recommended that it not be passed. The report did not even attempt to amend the proposed legislation as is convention with other bills. The only takeaway for Queensland dairy farmers was a flat ‘no’.
It is clear the committee did its best to find reasons not to pass the bill. The few reasons it gave resemble a joke rather than the respectful response our industry deserved. The claim the logos would be in breach of section 92 of the constitution, the section that guarantees free trade between states, was an exaggeration of the highest order. Section 92 restricts states from excluding product from other states or imposing disincentives such as tariffs. The Fair Milk Logo Bill would assist in identifying local product, not restrict or impose any tariffs. If the supposed legal advice the committee received was real it would have been made in writing and made public.
The report misappropriated my claim that the logo may lead to an increase in value of Queensland produced milk as evidence of ‘restricted trade’. Most people would see this as simply a result of positive consumer reaction from the logo, rather than a constitutionally contentious outcome. The committee’s rejection of the Fair Mark Logo Bill is the equivalent of questioning the merits behind the ‘Made in Australia’ logo because it would discriminate against imported goods.
Farmers have been shocked that the two major parties have, to date, not been prepared to assist consumers to identify local Queensland milk. As with the previous attempt to get the logos through the parliament, the idea has been thrown back to the industry. Promised support has never materialised and we have no belief this committee’s words have any more meaning than last time. The only workable outcome is for Parliament to pass the Bill and finally do something for dairy farmers in the state they claim to represent.