Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien has launched a scathing attack on Coles and Woolworths over their implementation of the milk drought levy, and their purchasing tactics.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien has launched a scathing attack on Coles and Woolworths over their implementation of the milk drought levy, and their purchasing tactics. Renee Albrecht

'Bastardised' milk levy spurs MP to open war on supermarkets

THE "predatory purchasing practices" of supermarkets has been slammed in a scathing speech by Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien, who has again flagged the need for a public inquiry into the milk wars.

In a parliamentary speech last night, Mr O'Brien slammed Coles and Woolworths over their behaviour and said "evidence was mounting" for a Royal Commission.

He was especially critical of their answer to the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation's proposed 10c drought levy on milk, which he said they "bastardised".

 

The Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation said consumers shouldn't be fooled the big retailer's milk levy.
The Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation said consumers shouldn't be fooled the big retailer's milk levy. Molly Glassey

"When the supermarket giants, which have a $62.2 billion share of the $90.3 billion grocery market, initially agreed to the 10 cent per litre drought levy I said it was a welcome first step.

"But instead they have quarantined the levy, only applying it to some of their private label milk, which now devalues the worth of branded milk."

He said Coles and Woolworths "deserved condemnation for their tricky and cynical move", noting it was not the first time Coles had been caught.

The company was fined $10 million in 2014 for misconduct towards suppliers.

 

Cedar Pocket dairy farmer Rod Thefs is one of the region's farmers who is in favour of a milk drought levy.
Cedar Pocket dairy farmer Rod Thefs is one of the region's farmers who is in favour of a milk drought levy. Scott Kovacevic

"In the same way we're having a Royal Commission into misconduct by the banks, the evidence is mounting for a Royal Commission into the predatory purchasing practices and pricing policies by the supermarket giants that are destroying farmers.

"Indeed, my experience with the dairy industry has shown me that those who deal with the supermarkets are fearful speaking out about unfair practices, and a Royal Commission would change this oppressive culture.

"With all of Coles and Woolworths self-serving promotion and fanfare, saying look at us, we're looking after farmers - the reality is they're not.

 

Dairy farmers are caught in the middle of the milk wars.
Dairy farmers are caught in the middle of the milk wars. Contributed

"Their slick marketing campaigns causing private label milk to fly out of their fridges is making the plight of dairy farmers worse."

He said their "refusal to play fair" only draws more attention to the need for government intervention, and labeled the Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund a "farce".

"It may look good and it may sound like Coles is doing something to help farmers, but the farcical fund undermines the effort to ensure dairy farmers receive a fair price for their product," he said.

Gympie Times


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