Nationals vote against Senate motion to debate fair pricing for the dairy industry
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: In the Senate this morning, Government Senators voted against bringing Pauline Hanson’s dairy Bill on for debate and for a vote. By doing so, they have again put the interests of National Party Senators and MPs ahead of the interests of our dairy farmers, dairy farmers who are currently facing a crisis. Now, the proposition this morning was put in private Senator’s time and Labor made the time available for the Bill to be both debated and voted upon, and to block that from occurring goes against the traditions of the Senate. Usually, the Government allows the private Senator to have that Bill, any bill, debated upon. That is not what occurred this morning and that is a matter of deep regret.
Our dairy farmers are facing an existential crisis and the Government has no response to it other than a proposed mandatory code of conduct it’s been talking for about for 20 months but is still having an internal argument about. In any case, a mandatory code of conduct properly constructed will help the industry but it’s not a panacea for all its problems. It will not address the market failure that Government Senator, Susan McDonald, was talking about only last week. Nor will it deal with any relationship between supermarkets and dairy farmers because there is no relationship. The code of conduct deals with the relationship between the processors and our dairy farmers. So, the Government should not pretend that a mandatory code of conduct, if ever we ever see one, will fix all the problems our dairy farmers face.
Now, we know why the Government wouldn’t allow this to be debated and voted upon today. That is, they wanted to protect their National Party, LNP Senators from having to vote with or against the Bill. In other words, they are putting their own political interests ahead of the interests of our dairy farmers and, again, National Party MPs and Senators are allowing themselves to be bullied by a Prime Minister who himself obviously doesn’t care about our dairy farmers. Now, The National Party has to stand up to Scott Morrison. It has to be on the side of our dairy farmers, and Senators like Senator Perin, and others – Senator McDonald – need to start standing up for our dairy farmers. She talked the talk last week, Susan McDonald, but today in the Senate gave up the opportunity to do something for our dairy farmers. I’m also very disappointed Centre Alliance Senator, Rex Patrick, who again today chose not to give Senator Hanson’s Bill an airing. Rex Patrick could have had the Bill debated today and he could have explained why he is against helping our dairy farmers. But again, he voted against the proposition of having the Bill debated in the Senate this morning.
JOURNALIST: Would you have supported Senator Hanson’s Bill if it had come to a debate?
FITZGIBBON: Labor will absolutely support Senator Hanson’s Bill, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. We are still hopeful that at some point, we’ll get this Bill through the Senate and then it will come to the House of Representatives where Barnaby Joyce, and George Christensen, Michelle Landry, and all those other Nats in the House of Representatives will have an opportunity to stand by our dairy farmers.
FITZGIBBON: It is a very, very similar bill to that which was debated a number of weeks ago, a vote we lost 31-30. And we believe there is an opportunity to do better this time if only Rex Patrick will allow the Bill to be debated and voted upon in the Senate.
JOURNALIST: Is there any level of tit-for-tat with the Bill being voted on today with One Nation just after its position on the Ensuring Integrity Bill last week?
FITZGIBBON: No, I don’t think there is any tit-for-tat here. I think the Government’s intention was a very, very clear one and that was to protect LNP Senators for having to sit there voting against a Bill to effectively help our dairy farmers in crisis.