Rival poll rejects dairy deregulation

28 Jun, 2000 11:08 AM
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THE Australian Milk Producers Association (AMPA) ballot of dairy quota holders in three states last week received its highest voter turnout of 79 per cent in WA, where 65pc voted No to deregulation. The ballot was also held in Queensland and New South Wales where No votes were in the 80 per cent range but ballot returns were at 43pc and 34pc, respectively. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) sent out a total of 499 ballot papers in WA, with 396 votes returned, of which 245 were No to deregulation, 130 Yes and 98 not returned. AMPA WA interim president Tony Pratico said he was happy with the outcome of the vote and that, while the list used for the ballot was not up to date, it was still a certified list that was given to the AEC. He said having the updated list would have changed the outcome only slightly. "It would have only changed the percentages but we would still have had a majority," he said. Mr Pratico, a Greenbushes dairy farmer, said the Dairy Industry Authority (DIA) did not provide AMPA with a complete list, but had indicated which farmers on the AMPA list were ineligible to vote. This resulted in 20 ballots being rejected at scrutiny. The WA Farmers Federation (WAFF) dairy section March ballot on deregulation, tied to receiving the national dairy restructure package, received a 58-42pc split in favour of deregulation. The WAFF ballot was sent to all WA dairy farmers, including non quota holders, and the result was used by dairy section president Danny Harris to request deregulation on behalf of the dairy industry. Mr Harris said the AMPA vote was flawed and irrelevant, given Victoria was going to deregulate. "Even if they (AMPA) only wanted to poll quota holders, they did not even achieve that," he said. AMPA is looking at taking legal action against state governments after deregulation to receive quota compensation. Mr Practico said WAFF could also be in the firing line if the WA deregulation legislation was an industry bill and it was found "industry" had not in fact supported deregulation. WAFF had received in-house legal advice that it did not represent industry. He said that, in light of the recent AMPA results, chances for quota compensation would be strengthened after deregulation.

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