'Shocked, disappointed': Norco's 300,000 litre milk gap
THE battle Member for Lismore Thomas George is having on behalf of Norco with the Minister for Health has just got tougher after Brad Hazzard's office issued a statement that said the Lismore company's price was too high.
Mr George has been lobbying Mr Hazzard after it was announced Norco lost a local tender to supply milk to the region's key health facilities to a firm whose profits go overseas.
Norco employs more than 300 people in the region.
Despite Mr George confirming Norco told him it will continue to buy milk from its Northern Rivers suppliers, it means the company will now have to find an alternative market for 300,000 litres.
"I am shocked and disappointed with the decision that Norco cannot supply the Northern New South Wales Local Health District," he said.
But Mr Hazzard said it came down to price.
"I am advised by NSW Health that ... Norco did not offer the most economical price for taxpayers," he said.
"I also understand that whilst it wasn't a specific request in the tender, Norco didn't state that the milk would be solely from NSW (and) NSW Health advises that Norco also has dairy farms in Queensland."
Norco chairman and acting chief executive Greg McNamara said the company will continue to buy milk from its 214 dairy farms in northern NSW and southeast Queensland.
"We will honour our contract to collect every litre from all our farmers and try to get them the best price possible," he said.
"With the loss of this tender for 300,000 litres, we have to find an alternative home for the milk with a better value."
Meanwhile, Mr George said he was hopeful for a good result.
"Another issue is giving local food businesses the same tender weighting as we do with construction," he said.
"A company which guarantees to use local tradespeople has an advantage in a tender process, why can't we do this with food procurement?"