Senate inquiry report into red meat processing extended until June

James Nason, 30/03/2017

THE Senate inquiry into the effect of market consolidation on the red-meat-marketing sector has been extended to June.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee was due to hand down its final report from the inquiry, which began in 2014, today.

However, the committee wants to conduct more hearings and was last week granted an extension to report on June 15.

Details such as the time and locations of further hearings, who will be called to speak at them, and whether they will be open or closed hearings with Senators only, are not yet available.

The inquiry commenced in March 2015.

The Senate committee handed down an interim report in May 2016 before the Federal election.

It made a handful of recommendations, including:

  • The introduction of a transparent pricing mechanism be introduced at livestock saleyards
  • That Meat and Livestock Australia in cooperation with the livestock and red meat industry, establish a national price disclosure and reporting system
  • Industry and producers work together to establish best practice modeling for saleyard design in cooperation with producers and their representatives.
  • The Australian Government introduce legislation to prohibit concerted practices as soon as practicable.
  • The establishment of a registration and training system for livestock agents, overseen by a formal registration body

However the interim report was seen as lacking depth and acknowledged it was being rushed through before the dissolution of both houses of Parliament last year.

At the time the committee wrote that it had more to say on a number of important matters including:

  • Price disclosure
  • Agents’ conduct and collusion
  • Trimming
  • Variations in grid inspections
  • Standardisation of saleyard design and selling practices
  • Reverse consolidation markets
  • Agents’ owning saleyards in which they operate
  • The adequacy of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) powers to protect witnesses
  • Processor consolidation, including the loss of competition and creeping acquisition
  • Buying power
  • The late setting of prices for cattle booked for sale
  • Commission buyers
  • The ACCC market study (which has since been completed); and
  • The lack of a complaints mechanism for ‘over the hook’ grading.

A final recommendation in the interim report was that the reporting deadline be extended to 20 December 2016 to enable the committee to continue its work in the new Parliament.

That was granted and the inquiry has continued under new SRRAT references committee chair Senator Barry O’Sullivan.

The reporting date has since been extended twice to March 30 and now June 15.




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