Labor forms shock alliance with One Nation
LABOR and Pauline Hanson will join forces to bring on politically-sensitive dairy bill into the Senate on Monday, forcing unsettled Nationals to decide whether they cross the floor.
It can be revealed Labor will sacrifice its allocated time on Monday so the One Nation Leader can debate a bill that the Morrison Government does not support.
The Nationals are sensitive about One Nation's policy intervention and were ready to implode after Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie told her party room she could not bring forward a dairy code before April, only to declare days later to Senator Hanson it would be done by December. The impasse came about after Senator Hanson told the Government she would not vote for their non-critical bills.
Senator Hanson's bill, which has the support of the Labor Party, aims to "task the (competition watchdog) with establishing a base or minimum price for the milk fat and protein content of milk produced on the farm,...legislate a mandatory code of conduct to regulate the relationship between the...(and) to make a referral to the Productivity Commission.
The Government has drafted its own code of conduct but Senator Hanson does not support it.
Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the Bill would apply the necessary pressure on Scott Morrison "to support struggling dairy farmers and to accelerate the implementation of an effective Mandatory Code of Conduct to address market power imbalance".
"The Bill's objectives are largely consistent with the policy Labor took to the 2019 election to task the ACCC to assess and test the efficacy of a Minimum Farm Gate Milk Price and to make recommendations on the best design options,'' Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"For too long our dairy farmers have been caught in a cost-price squeeze and their plight has now been compounded by the shocking drought.
"The retail price of milk remains stubbornly low while farm input costs continue to grow. "Tough talk by Ministers about the big supermarket chains have proven weak, hollow and ineffective."
The tactics of both sides are unclear as to whether Labor and the crossbench will force a vote on.
It is likely the Government will filibuster on the issue to prevent a vote being brought on.
If it passes, Bob Katter will introduce the Bill into the House of Representatives, underscoring the new relationship between the two Queensland mavericks.