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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1019 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

that the protection of the local dairy farm Goldenholm continue, so that it can supply to the new marketing entity the 3 per cent of Canberra milk it currently supplies. Mr Speaker, it must be remembered that 97 per cent of our milk comes from New South Wales and Victoria already and that that is unlikely to change. Our sole milk processor and packager is 100 per cent owned by New South Wales dairy farmers and obviously operates to represent their interests.

The report also recommends that maximum price fixing reside with the Independent Pricing Commissioner; that the provisions relating to processor and distributor margins cease to exist; and that on repeal of the Milk Authority Act 1971 the existing licensing and zoning provisions be abolished and be replaced with franchising arrangements for the home vendor sector. The last of these is clearly a key issue for both the vendors and those who buy the 26 per cent of milk that is home delivered. This is an area that clearly needs more investigation. Finally, the report recommends that the restriction on home vendors which prohibits them from selling milk products other than those packaged on behalf of the Milk Authority should be removed. This would have the effect of allowing them to offer a broader range of products, including non-milk products, and diversify their businesses.

Separating the functions of marketing Canberra Milk and regulating the milk industry has been one of the major findings of the report. In its current role the Milk Authority acts as both a regulatory and a marketing body. This has led to a monopoly in the ACT, although that was never the intention in setting up the authority.

The report also acknowledges that ACT suppliers buy the cheapest milk in the country - almost 10c cheaper than New South Wales at farm gate prices - yet by the time it gets to the consumer we pay only 1c less than in New South Wales. It acknowledges that prices have not gone down with deregulation in other States. Curiously, milk consumption has gone up in deregulated States. The report also shows that declines in home delivery have been a trend throughout Australia for some time and cannot be attributed to deregulation. It says that with the best will in the world we cannot turn the clock back, as shopping patterns are unlikely to revert to those of the 1970s. What it illustrates is that the Canberra community must support the service for it to survive.

As I indicated yesterday, Mr Speaker, the report will go out for further community consultation until 31 July. It will then, of course, be up to the Assembly to decide on its recommendations and the industry's future direction. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank Dr Robyn Sheen for her hard work and for the professionalism and integrity which went into preparing this report. This report is not the "deregulate or die" report that many believed the Government was advocating, and Dr Sheen has done a marvellous job. Thank you, Robyn. In conclusion I would urge all members and the community to look closely at the report and provide any comments that they may have. The Assembly will ultimately decide on the implementation of any changes, so I hope that we can all work together on this issue. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Kaine) adjourned.

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