Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper has gone off at the State Government. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper has gone off at the State Government. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily

‘We could’ve saved more farms’: Dairy boss goes off

RELATIONS between one of the region's largest independent dairy producers and the State Government have soured after a hospital supply tender was awarded to foreign-owned companies.

Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper went off on social media on Thursday night, and told the Daily he couldn't understand why the State Government was spruiking a "buy local" message while overlooking local suppliers.

"It's a bit disappointing," he said.

Mr Hopper said they'd tendered for the contract to supply Metro North Hospital and Health service back in July, after being repeatedly encouraged to go for the contract.

He said the two-year contract to supply about 11,000L of milk a week would've been worth about $20,000 a week to his company.

Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper samples some his company's product. Photo: Stuart Cumming
Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper samples some his company's product. Photo: Stuart Cumming

Mr Hopper said they'd been invited by the State Government to the Buy Local campaign launch, and when he'd advised they couldn't compete on price with suppliers like Chinese-owned Lion and French-owned Lactalis, Mr Hopper said he was still encouraged by the State Government's procurement team to tender for the contract.

"Why are you running a campaign that says buy local?" Mr Hopper said.

"We're big enough to supply it."

He said had they secured the contract it would've enabled them to "take on another farm" at a time when survival was becoming increasingly difficult for dairy farmers.

"It's all about saving the farms locally," Mr Hopper said.

"It's about our future."

He said reducing "food miles" had been a part of the tender requirements and he couldn't understand how awarding a contract to foreign-owned suppliers who would source interstate milk was reducing food miles and carbon footprints.

"They can reverse it (decision)," Mr Hopper said.

"The same thing happened in New South Wales."

Acting Health Minister Leeanne Enoch. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Acting Health Minister Leeanne Enoch. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Acting Health Minister Leeanne Enoch said the successful contractor was "the only tenderer able to supply the full range of full and low-fat products required including milk, cheese and yoghurt, to meet the dietary standards and varied requirements of patients".

"They're also the largest milk processor in Queensland and the biggest buyer of raw milk in Queensland," Ms Enoch said.

"Almost all the milk provided to patients and staff will be fresh milk, with as much as possible from Queensland dairies. Where milk can't be sourced from Queensland, it's sourced from interstate, not overseas."

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Photo Lachie Millard
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Photo Lachie Millard

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington slammed the decision, saying it made a mockery of the State Government's buy local policy.

"Labor have missed an opportunity to put Queensland farmers and hospital patients first and instead are sending taxpayers money to foreign companies," she said.

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson also attacked the decision and demanded the decision be overturned and the contract awarded to a local supplier.

"This is absolute hypocrisy from Premier Palaszczuk, who will happily send taxpayer funds to multinationals Lactalis and Lions, who pay negligible tax in Australia, when we have one of the best milk providers in the nation right here in south east Queensland," Senator Hanson said.

Senator Pauline Hanson in the Senate Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Senator Pauline Hanson in the Senate Chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith


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