'Hypocrisy': Foreign milk chosen over Qld dairy farmers
THERE'S an old saying - don't cry over spilt milk, but dairy farmers are calling out the State Government for "hypocrisy" after picking a foreign-owned company over Queensland dairy farmers.
The Queensland government has come under fire after French-owned dairy company Lactalis Australia was awarded a supply contract, beating out Sunshine Coast-based Maleny Dairies.
The deal will allow Lactalis to supply dairy products across all Metro North facilities, including Queensland's biggest hospital Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital.
The government defended the deal in a statement, claiming Lactalis was "the only tenderer able to supply the full range" of products required and where the "largest milk processer in Queensland and the biggest buyer of raw milk in Queensland".
A statement released by Maleny Dairies criticised the decision, noting it was in stark contrast to the government's own 'Buy Local' initiative the dairy had supported.
In the statement, the family-owned business claimed had the tender awarded to them, it would have "have ensured the safe guarding of the local work force employed by the company and that of our dairy farms".
"It appears to us from a community perspective that the Minister for Health has focused singularly on his problem of cost blowout and cutting budgets and as a consequence has been blindsided by that process to the broader implications both at the community and government policy level," the statement read.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington also criticised the move, claiming the government had "missed an opportunity to put Queensland farmers and hospital patients first".
But Lockyer Valley dairy farmer Luke Stock isn't sure the criticism is warranted.
Mr Stock, a Lactalis supplier, said he doubted he would see an increase in farm-gate price as a result of the deal.
While he understands Maleny Dairies' disappointment, he pointed out the deal had gone to a tender process.
"You've got to appreciate that there is a tender process that's gone on. You've got to respect that," Mr Stock said.
Acting health minister Leeanne Enoch defended the contract.
"Almost all the milk provided to patients and staff will be fresh milk, with as much as possible from Queensland dairies," Ms Enoch said.
"Where milk can't be sourced from Queensland, it's sourced from interstate, not overseas."
Mr Stock said while it was positive to see politicians going in to bat for the dairy industry, he criticised those that were simply paying lip service without understanding the full picture.
"A lot of the time that gap between reality and our politicians has become so great that they're actually misinformed," he said.
"It's all well and good to come out and say support local but if the tender process has gone on and its fair, unfortunately you've got to support the outcome."
While he hoped the supply would come "first and foremost" from Queensland farmers, he pointed out that the state's dairy industry produced 300 million litres less than the demand for milk within the state, and bringing in interstate milk was "unavoidable".