Australia's peak dairy farmer group has welcomed the establishment of a new dairy specialist within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson commended Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie for acting quickly on the government's election promises to the industry.
Senator McKenzie announced on Wednesday that the ACCC would appoint a new dairy specialist and establish a dairy consultative committee within the ACCC.
"The establishment of the dairy consultative committee is part of an $8.1 million injection into the ACCC Agriculture Unit to continue its valuable work for the dairy and agriculture sector," Senator McKenzie said.
The committee, to be led by an independent chairperson with a strong knowledge of the dairy industry, would help enforce the industry's new mandatory code of conduct.
"Work is continuing on drafting regulations for the mandatory code of conduct in the form of an exposure draft," Senator McKenzie said.
"Following this, a third round of consultation with industry will begin to gather feedback on the exposure draft and provide the ACCC with up-to-date and relevant advice."
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Mr Richardson said the new committee must be given the power to test all claims relating to the mandatory code.
"We believe the committee should focus on the code of conduct and other matters that fall under the remit of the ACCC," he said.
"This includes acting on all complaints that are brought forward.
"The ACCC uses a public benefit test to determine which claims it pursues, but in our view this threshold is likely too high for many of the claims potentially breaching the code."
Senator McKenzie said the ACCC would seek nominations from people from a range of backgrounds and industries within the sector, including peak bodies, industry associations and industry advisers to form the committee.
"The committee and its chair will ensure there is a strong voice for the dairy industry during the implementation of the mandatory code of conduct and once it is in operation," she said.
"This will inform the ACCC's enforcement of the mandatory code of conduct and other activities to bring about industry compliance and awareness."
The new ACCC dairy specialist role will operate within its agriculture unit to provide additional expertise and to raise industry awareness about the mandatory code of conduct.
"The Liberal and Nationals Government is a strong backer of our dairy industry and will further strengthen the ACCC's focus on the sector through the committee and the existing experience of the ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh and the ACCC dairy specialist role," Senator McKenzie said.
Industry members can contact the ACCC via AgricultureUnit@accc.gov.au to raise issues concerning the dairy industry.
This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer