Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hoppert.
Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hoppert.

Premier’s hypocrisy in milk contract saga

IT IS a bit rich for the State Government to brand itself with the "Buy Queensland'' policy then bypass Queensland's own Maleny Dairies to award a milk contract to French-owned Lactalis.

The controversy over the Government's decision to award the contract to service the Metro North hospitals to Lactalis and Lion Dairy instead of Maleny shows no signs of going away as the LNP launched a petition to force a government back down.

The government does have a duty to try and secure the most cost effective arrangement when negotiating contracts which are inevitably billed to the taxpayer.

But is it instructive to go back to July 2017 when the State Government was promoting its "Buy Queensland''procurement at the ALP state conference in Townsville.

Then, the Government was ready to override cost concerns and even international free trade agreements if it could help give a leg up to Queensland businesses.

"Value for money means a lot more than choosing the cheapest price, especially when it comes to allocating taxpayers' dollars,'' Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at the time.

"The value of a dollar spent can be greatly increased if it is spent where it's earned - right here in Queensland.''


Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hoppert.
Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hoppert.


In an Australian first, the State Cabinet then also agreed the government would no longer be "constrained or bound by free trade agreements that have seen jobs go offshore or interstate''.

"We are going our own way,'' the Premier declared.

"We will ignore restrictions that go against our interests.''

Fast forward two and half years and the words ring a little hollow.

The days of the old National Party's Government Agrarian Socialism are, thankfully, far behind us.

But it's clear the Labor Government doesn't mind interfering in the free market and buying locally when it comes to big construction jobs.

Australian dairy farmers deserve special consideration decades on from the deregulation which pushed thousands of farming families off the land.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington and the LNP Member for Glasshouse Andrew Powell have a perfectly legitimate argument as they attempt to get 10,000 signatures on a petition to try and pressure Labor to change its mind, and reconsider Maleny Dairies for the contract.

As Powell points out, Maleny Dairies was show cased by the Government when it was promoting its Buy Queensland policy.

"This is a Queensland company that has been taken for a ride by the government and they deserve some justice and some reasonable explanation as to why that has occurred,'' Powell says.