The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie today moved a motion that will
see the Senate investigate the effect of market consolidation on the red meat
Senator McKenzie, working in consultation with her National Party colleagues, local producers and key industry groups, was the driving force behind drafting the terms of reference and moving the motion.
Senator McKenzie said the move was response to meat processors’ recent boycott of the Barnawartha Saleyards in Victoria’s North-East, with local producers angered by the ever-increasing market power of meat processors.
“Working alongside local producers, the Victorian Farmers Federation and New South Wales Famers Association and my National Party colleagues, I moved this motion with the aim of shining a light on the red meat processing sector,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Many local producers have been too afraid to speak out about what is happening in their sector through fear of reprisals from processors.
“This inquiry will provide an open forum where we can have the discussion, where all the issues can be thoroughly investigated and both producers and processors can have their say.
“If we are to have a strong industry, producers need to have faith that there is a level playing field across the supply chain, with the recent boycott by processors at Barnawartha damaging that faith.
“We currently have a situation where processors and supermarkets continue receive record prices for local beef, yet the producers returns are diminishing – this needs to be thoroughly looked at.
“The Nationals are committed to standing up for local farmers and this inquiry will answer many of the farmers concerns and ultimately pave the way for a fairer and more transparent industry.”
Senator McKenzie said the motion, which received support from The Nationals Senators John Williams, Barry O’Sullivan and Matt Canavan, had been referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 12 August 2015.
Senator McKenzie said the Committee would investigate:
- The potential for misuse of market power through buyer
collusion and the resultant impact on producer returns;
- The impact of the red-meat processor consolidation on market
competition, creation of regional monopolies and returns to farm gate;
- The existing selling structures and processes at saleyards, particularly pre and post-sale
weighing, as well as direct sales and online auctions, and whether they remain
- The regulatory environment covering livestock, livestock agents, buyers and meat processors; and
- Any related matter.
Senator McKenzie said the inquiry would complement the work being undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which was currently investigating the buyer boycott at Barnawartha.
“We cannot continue to have events occurring like the recent boycott at Barnawartha,” Senator McKenzie said.
“It damages this important local industry, hurts producers, hurts processors and ultimately hurts consumers.
“The Nationals are committed to working alongside producers and processors to achieve positive outcomes for the industry.”
Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0488 747 770 firstname.lastname@example.org