The State Budget handed down by Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt last Tuesday has done little to give clear direction for the state’s economy or provide a better deal to its efficient but struggling dairy farmers. While we appreciate the government’s continued drought assistance, many of our industry’s real priorities have not been addressed.
High on the agenda for farmers is a reduction in electricity costs that are crippling many agricultural industries, including dairy. It has been disappointing that much of the hype around power issues has been driven by advocates for the coal industry rather than those looking to build an efficient and sustainable electricity system.
As power generation costs amount to around a quarter of our electricity bills and most generation sources relatively comparable, the state government needs to proactively look at costs in the rest of the electricity supply chain. These range from electricity distribution costs to the network valuation and dividends returned to the government on power assets post the generation units, as well as profit levels of electricity retailers. It is essential that government works alongside industry to continue assisting farmers to reduce their electricity use through implementing efficiencies and adopting renewable alternatives.
Also absent in the State Budget was government support to help inform consumers about what is sustainably priced fresh milk from Queensland. It was disappointing that the members from both major parties on the parliamentary Agricultural Committee backed away from recommending the Fair Milk Logo Bill as a vehicle for informing consumers and helping their state’s dairy farmers.
Considering there is a state election approaching, we remind both sides that support is a two way street before they consider not passing the bill. There needs to be a significant and effective plan B if the decision is made to sink the Fair Milk Logo. Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) is ready and willing to work with both parties to ensure our farmer members get a fair go.