NATIONALS Member for the South West, Colin Holt MLC, has slammed comments made at the Wesfarmers AGM in Perth yesterday.
Mr Holt said that comments by Wesfarmers Chairman Mr Chaney disparaging the Nationals WA plan to modernise iron ore State agreements and CEO Richard Goyder’s refusal to acknowledge that $1-a-litre milk is hurting the dairy industry shows the company is more focused on their board room mates than the future of Western Australia.
Mr Holt disputed the $20/t figure Mr Chaney used to try and justify shielding the big iron ore miners from the first special lease rental review over 50 years, stating he invited the Wesfarmers Chairman to provide a break-down of the figure that Mr Chaney says Rio and BHP are paying.
“In tough economic times, everyone has to pay their fair share. No other business or household is still paying a charge at the rate it was set in the 1960s. It’s time to revisit how mining revenues flow back to all Western Australians. What we’re proposing is not a new tax or charge, but a revision of an existing, tax-deductible charge which has not changed for 50 years” Mr Holt said.
Mr Holt said it was disappointing that Mr Goyder refused to acknowledge shareholder concerns that $1-a-litre milk was damaging the dairy industry, but said he was pleased that an ACCC inquiry, recently instigated by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, will investigate supply chain contracts, trading practices and the impact of $1-a-litre milk on the dairy industry.
Mr Holt said that an independent report by Ag Consultant Steve Hossen for the WA Farmers Dairy Council concluded that $1-a-litre milk has cost the WA dairy industry supply chain $25m annually.
“Tighter margins mean less money for the processors to pay farmers. The big supermarkets must acknowledge that a sustainable price for milk is crucial for the survival of the WA dairy industry”.
Mr Holt said that through the big supermarket chains, Western Australia is importing 300 million litres of milk as cheese “We pay the same price for the Eastern States cheese here as they do in Melbourne, so Coles and Woolworths are subsidising that cheese transport”.
“If we could make just 10 percent of the cheese here in Brunswick Junction, rather than importing product, we would not only keep dairy producers in business, but also grow the industry”.
“Some WA dairy farmers have gone out of business, while others are struggling to make ends meet as milk processors cut milk prices. Wesfarmers, as the owners of Coles Supermarkets, should be supporting WA jobs and dairy producers. I challenge Wesfarmers to stop subsidising cheese from the Eastern States and to commit to stocking cheese made in WA”.
Mr Holt encouraged consumers to support the WA dairy industry by buying branded milks and locally produced dairy products.
To find out more or make a submission to the National Dairy Inquiry, visit www.accc.gov.au
For media enquiries please contact Office of Colin Holt MLC on (08) 9724 1181