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  • Dale Last

Fair go for farmers should be a priority

While welcoming moves to hold supermarkets to account and ensure fair prices for farmers and consumers, Member for Burdekin, Dale Last MP, wants assurances of action; not another talk-fest.

As families face increasing cost of living pressures and farmers lose money on crops Mr Last said the fact that the big supermarket chains were making billion dollar profits proved the current situation was not sustainable.

“This is not the first time we have seen this issue raise its head,” Mr Last said.  “In the past there has been a lot of talk and a lot of promises but, as the current situation shows, the problem hasn’t been addressed.”

“The importance of this issue in rural and regional Queensland can’t be understated.  Not only do people who live here traditionally pay higher prices at the supermarket, there is a huge percentage of the population who either work in, or rely on, the agricultural and horticultural sectors for their work and businesses.”

“Woolworths and Coles are claiming that cost increases are the reason for huge mark ups on produce.  But, at the same time, they are completely ignoring the fact that producers are also facing massive cost increases.”

“The horticultural and agricultural sectors were promised cheaper electricity and water by both the current state and federal governments.  So, on one hand they have governments not honouring their promise and, on the other hand, they have the big supermarket chains paying them a pittance and then price gouging the consumer.”

Mr Last said that, in addition to the threats to jobs and businesses in regional Queensland, the issue could also have major implications for our food security.

“When producers are being paid prices that are similar to 1978 they have no option but to look at additional markets to keep their businesses viable,” he said.  “That means we will have more first class produce headed overseas and Queenslanders will have to rely more and more on imports.”

“An inquiry into prices, on face value at least, is a good idea.  But that inquiry needs to focus on the best interests of producers and consumers because Coles and Woolworths have had it their own way for too long.”

“My concern is that an inquiry and meetings drag on and on and that, at the end of it, we are left with more empty promises.  This situation needs to be addressed and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

“The fact is that the farmers don’t set the price you pay in the supermarket and neither do the local supermarket staff.  There is a huge power imbalance that benefits Woolworths and Coles head office in the cities and that power imbalance needs to be addressed.”

“There are factors at both the federal and state levels that need to be looked at when coming up with a solution.  Energy, diesel and fertiliser prices all contribute to increasing costs as well as layer upon layer of additional red and green tape.”

“For the sake of our primary producers, families and regional Queensland as a whole, we need to see leadership on this issue.  All options need to be considered and, most of all, the big supermarket chains need to be held to account.”

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