Remarks at meeting with Murray Golburn, Canberra

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much for joining us today.

Barnaby and I, like all Australians are very concerned about the events in the milk industry.

We are looking forward to discussing these events with you and in particular hearing from you the causes of these declining milk prices and in particular why it was that your suppliers - your dairy farmers, your co-op members - were paying prices that seemed to be at odds with global prices and are now in position where they have now substantial debts to repay to Murray Goulburn. And of course we know the very serious hardship that that turn of events have caused.

We would be grateful for you being very, very candid with us and very open.

We are both optimistic about the future of the dairy industry. The demand globally is growing and of course we have many in debt.

It is vital that we maintain a strong dairy industry in Australia, a strong, successful, profitable dairy industry in Australia and we want to hear from you how the events, the very disappointing events we hope to discuss occurred and what the road out of that downturn is. That’s the opening for a very - what we hope would be a very candid discussion between us.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Prime Minister.

Obviously there is a confluence of events, some unavoidable, global events, but some definitely very avoidable. My focus is overwhelmingly on your cooperative members and farmers. For my part I want to hear from you how we see our way through this, what role is to be played by you and by us.

I'm not giving any sort of warrant of what we can or suggest we will do, but we want to hear from you directly about that. The goal of course is quite simple to keep the farmers on the farm, that's it that's what we want.

There are other issues that have been brought up, but we've got our package out, we're trying to help people with cash payments. I hear that this morning that they've only got one loan out. Well I've only got one loan out because the state government is responsible for putting the loans out, not the federal Government. That's one of the things I'm trying to deal with, our recommendation for the investment corporation, trying to facilitate these things in a more expedient way. But we need your support of course for the measures we have already got on the table to get them moving and also to work out if there is some way we can work together in a more effective way.

That's about it, thanks.