May 26, 2016

Rundle: the price of milk is the first real issue in this elitist sideshow election

Part of the reason why, to everyone's surprise, so much attention has suddenly turned to the price of milk, and the world that goes with it, is because it's one of the only things that feels real in this damn election.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


In the spirit of the old SNL announcement that “Generalissimo Franco is still dead”, the election continued to fall apart yesterday. The government’s budget “black hole” in Labor’s spendings was nothing of the sort; as m’colleague Keane noted, this is the latest in a long history of budget “black holes”, beginning with a real one in 1987 — “an actual counting error”, as Keating gleefully said as he announced it.


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29 thoughts on “Rundle: the price of milk is the first real issue in this elitist sideshow election

  1. Bobalot

    Guy Rundle doesn’t think that manufacturing towns have a way of life worth saving but country towns do.


    1. CML

      You took the words right out of my mouth, Bobalot!
      Why is it okay for taxpayer’s money to be used to save the dairy industry …but NOT okay to save the car (and other manufacturing) industry?
      Is there something more ‘noble’ about agricultural pursuits??!!

      1. bushby jane

        I think it it ok to save the car industry and other manufacturing pursuits. However, this govt will not save the dairy industry, just put them in more debt. There needs to be something done about the retrospectivity (withdrawal of payment) in the farmers’ contracts.

      2. Charlie Chaplin

        We should have saved the car manufacturing industry: all those jobs.
        I get sick and tired of the catch cries “efficiency”, “competitive”, “productivity”, “free market” as our politicians pick and choose which mates -and marginal electorates – they will subsidise and save.

  2. zut alors

    ‘Critics of the farmers say that they should have been more circumspect about the prospect of ever-rising prices….’

    Would these critics apply the same argument to our bloated real estate prices? Many Australians still regard residential property as a rock solid investment – just as the farmers did when pouring money into their family business.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Times 2 Zut!

  3. Monas Bretta

    If we want people to live on the land we need to make sure that there are viable industries. Otherwise who will stop the land filling with noxious weeds and the creeks with silt?

    1. AR

      Monas – small point, creeks silt up as a result of soil mining, aka traditional euroid farming methods.
      Same with the noxious weeds – guess how they came here.
      Unless you have been fooled by the National Socialist argument about ‘tree weeds’.
      Left unviolated, the arid Interior would, eventually recover and become a treescape again. Not in my lifetime unfortunately, nor that of anyone reading Crikey.

  4. federali

    would love to see a back and forth from Keane and Rundle on this, is there a middle way?

  5. Dog's Breakfast

    “Critics of the farmers say that they should have been more circumspect about the prospect of ever-rising prices; ..”

    In the same way perhaps, as people who say that maybe Rio Tinto and BHP might have been more circumspect about the every-rising price of iron ore and coal, or the Howard/Costello clusterf#%& that could have been more circumspect about rivers of gold flowing into Treasury coffers on the back of a once-in-a-lifetime resources boom, or the Treasury officials who apparently believed and advised Howard and Costello that this was structural changes to the market.

    At least farmer’s can reasonably claim that their individual business doesn’t include a thorough understanding of world markets at its core, but perhaps milk production, whereas Rio Tinto and BHP and Treasury and Howard/Costello should have been more circumspect, as it is the very core of their business to be wise about these things before the event.

    It is an interesting issue, in that it cuts into the problem we all recognise, that most of us don’t make anything, and dairy farmers, efficient or otherwise, actually do make something.

    And maybe at a deeper level this election does hinge on a fundamental idea that is nascent in the public consciousness, that we are at a point where we should formally and explicitly reject unregulated capitalism, and recognise that government has the greater role in running the nation, not as bit players in a corporate world gone mad.

    Maybe, just maybe, but if we don’t learn that soon, it will become apparent before too long.

    1. Bushranger 71

      Concur DB. The fundamental problem is that nation does not have a clearly defined wide-ranging industrial policy which should principally aim at sustaining national supportability. Instead, we have a bloody Productivity Commission preaching unfettered capitalism.

  6. Raaraa

    I suppose the issue isn’t so much the lack of demand but more how much the big supermarkets are willing to pay the dairy farmers.

    Was it just months ago that the supermarkets had to impose a limit of how many tins of milk powder people could buy? Hopefully someone could link that two together and give these farmers a direct path to selling more dairy products.

  7. tonysee

    Guy Rundle waxing bucolic. Who’da thunk it?

    1. AR

      One wonders if he has a nascent bromance for a sturdy yeoman, outstanding in his muddy field of nostalgia.

  8. Norman Hanscombe

    Bobalot, you ask why “Guy Rundle doesn’t think that manufacturing towns have a way of life worth saving but country towns do.”
    The best explanation is that in line with the best financial interests of the Crikey Commissariat and their fellow capitalist media companies they’ll concentrate on whatever tales strengthen their financial interests.


  9. Paul

    There is a whole essay I could write about this but briefly
    The Vic and Tas dairy farmers convinced Howard to remove the base price for milk and so he applied a 10c per liter levy on us gave the farmers on average t$100000 each to spend as they wished and most wasted it.
    The farmers wanted a free market and they got it.
    They joined a coop (ie they were part owners) and sold their product at a price they were told was too high, they did not call for a reassessment of the coops price despite the fact they were the owners and the world price was falling.
    All fresh milk sold in Australia is produced in Australia, it come from nowhere else.
    So the farmers are, yet again, socialists when they have a rough time and free marketeers when times are good.
    They have got what they wanted, we paid for it no we are paying for their greed.
    How much direct and indirect subsidies does the agricultural sector get now, including the direct action rorts.
    Did the farmers support aid to the motor industry, steel industry maritime and shipping workers? No not a bit, they support the governments efforts to destroy them.
    So I will continue to pay $2 for 2 lts of milk because it is cheap and coincidentally that milk comes from Australian farmers. If I could buy New Zealand milk cheaper I would, it is called having a free market, something our farmers and government pretend to believe in.

    1. Duncan Gilbey

      Unfortunately harsh (and unfortunately, true)

    2. bushby jane

      I thought that Murray Goulburn has been made into a public company, which I understand is part of the problem of its mismanagement. Pip Courtney on The Drum last night was enlightening.

      1. Paul

        Pretty sure it is still a coop

  10. klewso

    On the bright side Jethro’s latest reflection took the spotlight off that deeper debt hole he wants to dig for some of these farmers?

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