Queensland Senator Matt Canavan has urged participants in the red meat industry to make submissions to the current Senate inquiry into processing.
Senator Canavan said he had heard that some people are concerned giving evidence might harm their commercial interests.
“People should not be afraid to submit evidence to a Senate committee. If evidence is of a commercial-in-confidence nature, the committee can agree to keep the evidence confidential.
“Anyone making a submission must include their name and contact details but they can request the submission itself be kept confidential. The inquiry committee decides whether or not the submission will be accepted in confidence but I will be urging everyone wanting to make confidential submissions be allowed to do so.”
The Rockhampton-based Senator said the inquiry is focussing on the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector.
“The inquiry is examining the potential for misuse of market power through buyer collusion and the resultant effect on producer returns,” Senator Canavan said. “This can significantly impact on farm-gate income.
“We want to hear from industry participants. This is the opportunity for anyone with concerns about how the processing sector operates to have those concerns heard.
“It is important the inquiry hears the facts about how the red meat processing sector operates. If people with important information are concerned about going public with their concerns, that could stop the committee doing its job properly.
“No-one is pre-judging the sector but we need to have confidence that we are getting all the facts so that rumours around the saleyards can be either put to bed or verified and acted upon.”
Senator Canavan said the inquiry will examine the impact of the red-meat processor consolidation on market competition, creation of regional monopolies and returns to farm gate.
“It will also consider the existing selling structures and processes at saleyards, particularly pre- and post-sale weighing, as well as direct sales and online auctions, and whether they remain relevant, plus the regulatory environment covering livestock, livestock agents, buyers and meat processors.”
Submissions should be lodged by June 30 and the inquiry is due to report its findings by August 12.
Along with Senator Canavan, other Senators participating in the inquiry include Barry O’Sullivan (based in Toowoomba), John Williams from New South Wales and Bridget McKenzie from Victoria. It is being conducted by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee. Further information is available on the Senate website.