I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the beef producers and peak farm bodies who attended the recent senate inquiry hearing in Albury, regarding the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector.
The senate inquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee is responding to concerns regarding buyer behaviour and alleged collusion.
It was triggered by a motion I moved and that was passed by the senate following a boycott incident by buyers at Barnawartha in north-east Victoria earlier this year. Hearings have also been held in Queensland and Canberra.
Such anti-competitive behaviour is not only unacceptable but illegal and intimidating to producers trying to earn a decent living.
Their decision to give evidence to the senate inquiry is appreciated and valuable to the investigation. We acknowledge it was not a decision taken lightly for some producers in fear of reprisals from processors.
North-east Victorian producers grow some of the world's best beef and are an important industry to the region and state. Let's keep it that way.
Our thanks also to the other witnesses attending the hearings and who have made submissions to the inquiry, which will report next March.
Senator Bridget McKenzie
Nationals Senator for Victoria