Dairy farming families still reeling from the outrageous behaviour of Murray Goulburn 12 months ago will take little comfort from the decision of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to prosecute the Cooperative.
The chance to help farmers was missed last year when Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull refused to join me in calling upon the Board of Murray Goulburn to deviate from their profit sharing mechanism to return more money to farmers by way of a higher farm-gate price. The deviation was absolutely within the Board’s discretion. Indeed the Board considered shifting funds away from unit-holders to farmers but rejected the idea.
Turnbull and Joyce should have joined in my call for the Board to do so. They should have been on the phone indicating that if the Murray Goulburn Board did not do better by farmers, there would be action under both competition and corporate law. It would have been obvious to any first-year law student that Murray Goulburn had done the wrong thing.
But instead, farmers have waited 12 months for an investigation to come to the same conclusion. The belated prosecution of Murray Goulburn will not help farming families one bit. That horse bolted 12 months ago.
Indeed, the farmers own Murray Goulburn so any prosecution of Murray Goulburn is an action against them.
Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce deserted dairy farmers in their hour of need.