10 July 2013: Aussie food producers at risk from the flood of cheap foreign products imported by the supermarket giants need more support from the Federal Government than another investigation.
“Everybody knows what’s happening – it’s staring at them in the face when they open the paper each morning – free market policies have decimated our food producers and manufacturers and it’s beyond high time our governments started protecting Aussie industries and jobs,” said KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter regarding today’s Government announcement of an investigation into peaches and tomatoes by the new Anti-Dumping Commission.
Mr Katter said the anti-dumping probe was too little too late for Aussie farmers who had been forced off vast tracts of land or forced to leave good quality, home-grown fruit go to rot on the ground, unable to compete against the cheap imports favoured by the supermarket giants’ own-label cheaper generic brands.
“SPC Ardmona, one of Australia’s biggest food processors and critical to the Goulbourn Valley food producing region, pleaded with the government several months ago for emergency safeguards – but in the final week of Parliament, the Government announced a six-month inquiry just to consider whether temporary tariffs are even justified,” said Mr Katter.
Mr Katter moved in Parliament for the Government to endorse the emergency tariffs as permitted by the World Trade Organization on cheap foreign imports that are threatening the viability of food producers such as SPC Ardmona, which has been forced to slash fruit intakes and jobs as imported fruits flood in to fill the supermarket giants’ cheaper private label ‘home brands’ – which increased their market share of domestic packaged fruit to a reported 58 per cent whilst SPCA’s shrank to 33 per cent.
“Of the two other major food processors that account for most of our processing, one has made similar noises whilst the other has opened a huge plant in New Zealand,” said Mr Katter.
“So we’re running into a situation where, next year, it may well be that almost everything you buy in a tin will come from overseas.
“The competitiveness of Aussie food producers is already badly handicapped by our artificially-inflated Australian dollar, which makes it up to 60 per cent cheaper to import foreign produce at the expense of Australian jobs and industry.
“And now they’re at risk of an untrammelled supermarket oligopoly,” said Mr Katter, who has introduced laws to Parliament to make it illegal for the supermarket giants’ to hold more than 20 per cent market share; and for imported food health warning labels for consumers.