RMAC Independent Chair Don Mackay has rejected Senator McKenzie’s attack on Australian red meat and livestock businesses and declared strong industry support for prosecutions of inappropriate or illegal behaviour.
Responding to comments from Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie that beef leaders ‘continue to stick their heads in the sand,’ Mr Mackay said the comments aimed at the 23-billion-dollar red meat industry were extremely disappointing and offensive to thousands of Australian exporters, farmers, feedlotters and food manufacturers across the country.
“RMAC, our members and the business community we represent would be the first to support prosecutions of anti-competitive behaviour.”
“We expect leadership from decision makers like the Senator and ask her to come forward with evidence to back her allegations via the media.”
“Senator McKenzie’s comments are offensive to our industry but also misguided and entirely inappropriate.”
Mr Mackay said that RMAC is behind robust competition policy settings that work for businesses within the supply chain; not political fear mongering.
“We take our responsibility as food producers in this country extremely seriously from gate to plate when it comes to matters of anti-competitive practises like conflicts of interests, collusion, bad behaviour, or bullying and intimidation.”
“As with other aspects in the supply chain from animal welfare to food safety, if there are players doing the wrong thing we believe they should be held accountable.”
Addressing Senator McKenzie’s comments, Mr Mackay said that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Cattle and Beef Market Study – Final Report focuses principally on additional reporting and awareness activities.
“The 15 Recommendations do not justify how they will improve competition policy within the beef cattle value chain.”
“In the absence of evidence from the ACCC we will continue to defend and promote the businesses within our supply chain who are doing the right thing.”
“We will continue to engage with the ACCC Agricultural Unit to determine the best way forward to ensure the optimal competition policy settings for beef businesses.”
RMAC released their response to the ACCC Cattle & Beef Market Study – Final Report and called on responsible authorities like the ACCC, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) and the Agriculture Minister’s Forum (AGMIN) to reject Senator McKenzie’s comments.
“The Australian red meat and livestock industry will continue to work together to achieve good policy outcomes to deliver on our collective goal of unlocking up to seven billion dollars in value.”
Mr Mackay said those same responsible authorities needed to come to the table “While demand is strong for Australian beef globally; a high cost domestic environment and growing competition from key international markets means that serious government-led reform is needed.”
“We call on decision makers from the ACCC to the Minister for Agriculture to assist industry in getting this right; and to join us in defending and promoting this critical Australian industry.”