MEDIA RELEASE - Liberal-National Government turns back on farmers in need

The NSW Labor Opposition has again slammed the Liberal-National’s Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate for failing to turn up to work and attend a pivotal meeting about the future of the industry. As the NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay visited a farm in Gloucester to talk about the dairy crisis, industry stakeholders gathered in Bega on the far south coast to plan a path forward after the catastrophic bushfires. But the Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate Ian Zandstra was again missing in action. It’s prompted Labor Shadow Primary Industries Minister Jenny Aitchison to call for a refund for the struggling industry. “Dairy farmers across the state are facing loss of cattle, fodder, electricity and water shortages, property damage, and safety hazards from burnt trees, severe financial pressure and cash flow problems. Most troublingly, the mental, emotional, and physical strain facing farmers is undeniable. “Why are farmers being left to fend for themselves? They are in dire need of urgent guidance and support. This should be coming from the Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate, they should be leading the conversation but where is he? “The NSW dairy industry deserves a refund. Every dollar possible should being going to help farmers, and every dollar spent on the Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate has clearly proven to be a waste,” Ms Aitchison said. Mr Zandstra was appointed the Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate in September last year – a position with an $800 a day pay-packet – without any formal interviews, and without the position being advertised. The government’s new Dairy Industry Advisory Panel was due to be fully appointed by the end of 2019, yet it’s still sitting vacant. “The Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate was promised nearly 12 months ago, announced only 3 months ago, contracted after he was announced and now he hasn’t delivered his panel and hasn’t attended key meetings with people in the industry,” Ms Aitchison said. “Yet again the Agriculture Minister has failed the dairy industry. We needed action 12 months ago, we can’t afford to let the government sit on its hands one moment longer.”

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