Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter is furious that Queensland will import milk for domestic supply for the third year in a row, saying it was no wonder we no longer had sufficient farmers to meet demand.
He lays the blame squarely at the feet of “free-market fundamentalists” who had de-regulated the dairy industry and forced many off their farms and out of work.
“When we had an arbitrated price for milk the farmers were getting 59 c per litre; the week after de-regulation when we no longer had an arbitrated price they were getting 31c per litre,” Mr Katter said.
“Arbitration was a reasonable price, it wasn’t a good price but it was a reasonable price.
“But de-regulation drove dairy farmers below the cost of production and they could not survive.
“The biggest dairy area in Queensland is the Atherton Tablelands where they have green grass all year round – before de-regulation we had 240 dairy farmers, last time I looked we now have 38 farmers.
“The murderous heartbreak for all of those workers that lost their jobs – all of the contractors and farmers that were bankrupted, as well as businessmen from accountants to feed suppliers – but what was it for?
“We sell less milk overseas now and the economy of Queensland is taking a shocking blow.
“After de-regulation exports of dairy dropped by nearly $1,000 million per year from around $3,000 million per year to around $2,000 million per year.