NATIONAL PARTY: by Patrick J. ByrneNews Weekly
John Anderson accused of misleading voters
, October 9, 2004
The "Katter Independents" have accused the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, of grossly distorting the truth in denying on ABC TV's Landline program his government had any responsibility for the deregulation of several rural industries.
"Without 'blood money' paid to the states under the Federal Government's National Competition Policy, there would be no deregulation of our industries," according to the three independent candidates - Bob Katter, independent Member for Kennedy; Margaret Menzel, independent candidate for Dawson; and Lars Hedberg, candidate for Wide Bay which is held by Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss.
They said: "The National Competition Council's own website admits that the Federal government has paid the states to deregulate AgVet Chemicals, bulk-handling, dairy, fisheries, food regulation, forestry, grains, horticulture, mining, potatoes, poultry, quarantine, rice, sugar and veterinary services."
The National Competition Council web site says that it:
- was set up by the Keating government in 1995 and continued under the Coalition;
- "advises the Federal Treasurer on whether the States and territories have achieved satisfactory progress and so meet the conditions for receipt of payments";
- will have paid $5.5 billion to the States to pursue deregulation by 2006.
"This 'blood money' is being used to kill off our rural industries and many small businesses," the Katter Independents claim.
If a State refuses to deregulate an industry, then the National Competition Council may withhold millions of dollars in National Competition payments to that State government.
According to the Australian Financial Review
(Dec 9, 2003), "The Federal Treasurer has fined State governments almost $54 million and withheld another $127 million in competition payments for the failure to deregulate shop-trading hours, liquor licences" and a host of other industries.
Yet the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, told ABC's Landline
(Sept 19) that his government was not responsible for the deregulation of the SA Barley Board: "There was no demand under National Competition Policy that they be removed. The problem in South Australia was that the State government decided to end it."
The National Competition Council's web site contradicts Mr Anderson, saying: "Grains such as wheat, barley, sorghum and oats have often been subject to government regulation through marketing boards. Under these arrangements, the State boards have an effective monopoly on the buying and selling of grains grown within their jurisdictions. Such issues are being considered under the National Competition Policy (NCP) legislation review process."
The Deputy Prime Minister also refused to take responsibility for the deregulation of the dairy industry, saying to Landline
, "Dairy was deregulated because the Victorian industry insisted on the right to sell milk interstate. Everyone knew it was going to come one day or another."
Yet the National Competition Council web site says, "In the past, market milk (that is, fresh drinking-milk) has been tightly regulated through price-setting and supply management arrangements controlled by State- and Territory-based dairy corporations ...
"The National Competition Council is required to conduct assessments of governments' progress in implementing NCP, including the review and, where appropriate, reform of legislation relating to dairy."
Recently, when dairy farmers approached the WA government to re-regulate their industry, because of the damage incurred by deregulation, the government said that if it were to re-regulate it would be penalised millions of dollars by the National Competition Council.
The sugar industry has been deregulated in Queensland, the result of a memorandum of understanding (agreement) signed by the Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, and the Queensland Premier.
What does the National Competition Council say about deregulation of the sugar industry? It says "The role of the National Competition Council is to assess governments' progress in implementing National Competition Policy, including the review and, where appropriate, reform of legislation relating to sugar."
The Katter Independents have said: "It is time that the rural and small business sectors made the National Party and the Coalition accountable for the terrible damage they have inflicted on Australian industries though National Competition Policy."