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Elgaar Farm Let Down by Minister Rockliff

Andrea Dawkins

Andrea Dawkins  -  Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tags: Primary Industries, Meander Valley

That this House notes:

1.      That the organic dairy in the Meander Valley, Elgaar Farm, was shut down in July 2014 by the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA), subsequent to the Liberal Party’s election to majority government, and sadly remains closed for business to this day;

2.      That Elgaar Farm was hastily shut down by the TDIA while the business owners were overseas, with the Authority citing apparent food safety concerns, which concerns have since been exhaustively addressed by the Farm’s owners;

3.      That prior to being shut down by the TDIA, Elgaar Farm had successfully operated as Tasmania’s only organic dairy farm for 20 years with a long standing reputation of safe food production and a long track record of excellent factory audit results;

4.      That although the Dairy Industry Act stipulates the TDIA are required to consult with and facilitate maintenance and development of the dairy industry, this has been considerably lacking in the case of Elgaar Farm, as they are still prevented from reopening and providing their much revered product to a large and loyal customer base;

5.      That unlike all other food industries in Tasmania, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment do not authorise external auditors for the dairy industry and as such the TDIA are solely responsible for industry auditing;

6.      That despite the Hodgman Liberal government’s policy of cutting red tape and removing bureaucratic obstacles for business, it would appear that is the ultimate reason Elgaar Farm is being prevented from recommencing production, flying directly in the face of the Liberal Party’s election promise;

7.      That the Elgaar Farm organic dairy product has such a large and loyal customer base that a crowd funding initiative saw the business raise over $200,000 in an effort to upgrade their infrastructure to new TDIA standards and allow for the business to reopen; an effort that appears have been in vain to date;

8.      That despite assurances from the Primary Industries Minister, Jeremy Rockliff MP, that the government and TDIA would work constructively with all processors, there are allegations by Elgaar Farm management of intimidation and reluctance by the TDIA to work constructively with the Farm to facilitate its reopening;

9.      That allegedly there is such concern by a number of small dairy producers in Tasmania regarding the structure and administration of the TDIA that complaints have been put in writing to Minister Rockliff; and

10.  Further, that this House:

a.       Calls on Primary Industries Minister, Jeremy Rockliff MP, to adhere to the Hodgman Liberal government’s election commitment and to ensure red tape and bureaucratic obstacles do not impede the reopening of Tasmania’s only organic dairy farm; and

b.Calls on Minister Rockliff to immediately undertake an assessment of the administration and function of the TDIA to ensure the Authority is functioning in line with its requirements under the Dairy Industry Act and Dairy Industry Regulations.