Ultimatum as Hanson ‘disgusted’ with PM
PAULINE Hanson has threatened to abstain from voting on "non-critical" legislation unless the Federal Government acts to save dairy farmers at breaking point.
In a new flashpoint for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the fiery One Nation leader also blasted the Government for wasting the Senate's time by not having enough Bills to debate, "because they never expected to win".
Despite meeting with the Prime Minister after the election in what is understood to have been a frank conversation that ended amicably, Senator Hanson is today demanding the Government re-regulate the industry to ensure a fair price for milk at the farm gate.
She has warned a generation of kids would be forced to drink powdered instead of fresh milk if farmers were driven to the wall, and farmers could sell out to Chinese firms, transferring more land out of Australian hands.
Senator Hanson plans to introduce a bill within the next sitting fortnight.
Draft legislation exclusively obtained by The Sunday Mail reveals a new or existing commission would determine the base milk price.
It would have to consider the cost of collecting milk and processing milk and the commercial viability of dairy farms, including small farms, in all states and territories.
"I'm just absolutely disgusted with Scott Morrison. He's not listening," Senator Hanson said.
"Politicians go cap in hand at the election begging voters so they can keep their jobs.
"Farmers are asking for help but they are turning their backs on them."
The drought, the supermarket milk wars and energy prices were driving farmers to the wall, circumstances outside farmers' control, she said.
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said there was no doubt that some dairy farmers were doing it very tough due to a combination of drought, high input costs and an imbalance in power in negotiating milk sales.
"It's not Australian Dairy Farmers, Australia's national dairy farming organisation, policy to re-regulate the industry, and it's not what I'm hearing from dairy farmers I talk to across the country," Senator McKenzie said.
"Our Government is committed to supporting all farmers in times of hardship and many dairy farmers have accessed that help in recent years with about 1200 dairy farmers currently receiving Farm Household Allowance.
"We're also helping with high input costs, like $10 million in grants available soon to help pay for energy efficient equipment to reduce the electricity costs that are unavoidable for dairy where perishable product needs to be kept cold."
She said state governments could do more to drive power prices down.
"We're also working on a code of conduct with industry to help farmers level the playing field when it comes to contracting."
It is due to be in place by at mid next year.