Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 109 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, a full public benefit test of the type that Labor continues to harp on needing to be done may well find that the retention of the regulations for the vendor zones and the licences actually do restrict competition and may suggest that they be removed. That, Mr Speaker, would remove all protection for our home vendors. Instead, what we have is a package. We have a path forward for our vendors.

Initially, Labor's path forward for the vendors was: "We would actually bump up the price of milk. We would put a levy on it. We would make our milk more expensive", so that the consumers could pay for Labor's mistakes in not understanding that this legislation offers a path forward. Mr Speaker, I think it is quite sad that we are still hearing from Labor that they do not understand, that they still have not done their homework, that they will still persist, that they know better. We will see further examples of the arrogance of Labor on an issue that they claim to regard as very important - protecting local jobs, protecting the price of milk - when they drop amendments before this place, claiming that they want to have a reasonable debate but in reality not understanding what the debate is about.

Mr Speaker, what is this debate about? This debate is about protecting the participants in the ACT milk market. It is about protecting milk vendors. We have just heard from Mr Rugendyke, who said that the vendors have approached him and said that they are happy with this package because they believe it offers a path forward for them. With that in mind, Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne will be supporting the package. The vendors understand that this is the way forward.

What about the consumers? Labor's answer to the consumers is that they should pay a levy, perhaps an excise. We would have to question whether that is legal and legitimate. Labor's answer is that the consumers should pay more. If that is an indication of Labor's budget strategy in the long term, Mr Speaker, it is a sad thing. I suspect that they will not be participating in any pre-budget debates because they do not want to reveal that their answer to everything is to bung on a levy, bung on an excise, bump up the price and make somebody else pay for it.

Mr Speaker, we have a number of producers who have an interest in the ACT. We have one who has a processing plant in the ACT. We have some other distributors that now bring product into the ACT. They want to know with certainty where this market is going and how they can participate in it. We need to give them that. Mr Speaker, Goldenholm, the ACT's only dairy, is quite a special place. Mr Kaine spoke of it. It does serve more functions than just producing milk. The only way that we can protect Goldenholm is to roll over the milk supply contracts. That ensures a role for them, and this legislation does that.

Mr Speaker, we have thought about this issue. We have taken into consideration what has been said to us. We have come up with a package that is a way forward. We have not rushed this matter. It has been going on for many months. I have seen things rushed through this place a lot quicker than the milk legislation, I can assure you. What we have given Labor is an opportunity to protect the milk industry and they threw it away. They betrayed the milk industry so that, effectively, from 1 January this year Labor has deregulated the milk industry in the ACT, and they still try to pin that tag on us.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .