Media Release 10 July 2019

Chair of Cattle Producers Australia (CPA) Dr Paul Wright issued another statement following the release of the Red Meat MoU Review Taskforce White Paper.

“Grass-fed cattle producers and the organisations that represent them must stand united in demanding industry leaders dispel any notion that a single body is able to advocate on behalf of all sectors of the red meat industry on all issues.”

CPA recognises there is merit in supporting a structure to promote pre-competitive collaboration on multi sectoral issues, however the Red Meat Advisory Council’s (RMAC) proposal will not provide the appropriate mechanism to address effective industry representation and more specifically there is no guarantee that the Red Meat Australia will provide the necessary resources for peak industry councils to represent their levy payers.

Dr Wright says, “importantly, the Taskforce report states we have over 82,500 businesses involved in the red meat industry and we need to recognise the competing and conflicting interests of these businesses.”

These inherent conflicts of interest go to the heart of the Red Meat Advisory Council’s structural deficiency and underpins its inadequacy as a one stop advisory body for Government yet we are being dealt a hand that delivers an even worse scenario whereby the proposed new Red Meat Australia receives all the levy funds thus becoming the industry ‘powerhouse’ – leaving the Peak Industry Councils to find new sources of funding to promote sectoral interests or ultimately leaving them to perish.

Dr Wright said “At the MLA AGM last year, I publicly questioned the Chair of the RMAC, Mr Don Mackay on how he manages matters of commercial conflict between the processor Board members and live exporter interests. Mr Mackay replied by acknowledging that members of the Board of RMAC are all competitors and the Board is often unable to reconcile these conflicts of interests that exist!”

“Extensive inquiries into the effectiveness of red meat industry structures and systems since the reform of the late 1990s have identified serious deficiencies in cattle producer representation. Recommendations by the Senate committee and other bodies to address these shortcomings have repeatedly been made.  Yet the Taskforce Review Committee although stating it is aware of a series of external factors that could potentially impact the proposed industry reforms such as the issue of direct representation, or other reforms to the internal processes of Peak Industry Councils (PICs) offers little attention to grass-fed cattle producer representation,” he said.

CPA believes that the grass-fed cattle production sector should have a representative organisation which is directly elected by grass-fed cattle producer levy-payers and which has control over the levies they pay and the policies that impact on their industry. This proposition is indisputably supported by numerous findings from Senate Committee hearings and independent consultants which are listed in detail in the CPA Submission to the MoU Review.

The CPA Submission outlined the many benefits which would flow from a unified, directly elected representative structure. This would duplicate the successful structure adopted by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and the Australian Meat Industry Council.

CPA holds that the dysfunctional flaws in the current red meat industry levy collection and expenditure arrangements would be rectified if each red meat industry sector adopted the current two company structure and if the terms of the Red Meat MoU were amended so that MLA carried out R & D through contractual arrangements with each red meat industry sector rather than through the current conflicted consultative arrangements. The result would be that the inherent conflicts would disappear, and each red meat sector’s levy funded body would be able to commission independent policy development research for its own sector as well as commissioning whole of red meat supply chain research and service provision through MLA.

Dr Wright said “cattle producers and their organisations need to challenge the report and the path it is suggesting and calls on them to step-up and speak out against this damaging culture becoming further embedded. By unifying we can generate strength necessary to succeed in transforming our industry.”

Dr Paul Wright

Cattle Producers Australia (Implementation Committee)
Taroom  Qld  4420
Phone 07 4628 6185 Mobile 0438 286 185

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