MOO: Milkers v duffers in representation row

FARMERFURY At the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria annual conference late last month, a rival but struggling dairy farmers group – Australian Dairy Farmers – attempted a mass “duffing” of its membership, according to industry sources.

Ordinarily, duffing – Strine for livestock theft  – is a serious offence, but the ADF will not be deterred.

On the floor of theIR conference, the UDV successfully blocked the serial offenders among the Australian Dairy Farmers, an organisation that is in financial straits and for which poaching members from Victoria has been seen as their only chance for survival.

As the number of and financial support from dairy farmers in other states has declined, the ADF has been seeking to milk the swollen udders of the Victorian dairy industry at the expense of the Victorian Farmers Federation. (The UDV is currently the largest bloc within the VFF).

Duffers within the UDV hoped to get up a motion at the conference to move towards the ADF’s national model and desert the state bodies. However, the small group of farmers with voting rights at the conference (less than 1% of the UDV’s membership) pushed it back to a ‘let’s review the options’ motion. That means the ADF’s duffing days are not over yet!

The VFF says disbanding the UDV may benefit the ADF but would be at the expense of dairy farmers in Victoria which contributes two thirds of Australia’s total dairy output and has established a strong lobbying base over the last 30 years.

The real driver behind the ADF push for control is much simpler – a small group seeking to build influence and status by making a bid to control membership funds, and who appear to have readily jumped into bed with the dairy processors to achieve their goal.

The ADF has been close to financial collapse for months as subscriptions have dried up and bad investments have eroded its base. The ailing organisation was only saved from insolvency in April after the Australian Dairy Industry Council stepped in to provide emergency funding to keep them afloat.

The word is that major dairy processors – Fonterra, Murray Goulburn, and Warnnambool Cheese & Butter, to name a few – are planning to support the ADF campaign to smash the powerful UDV base so they can strengthen their existing hold on farmers for their own ends.

The ADF proposal – backed by the ‘Fonterra Boys’ out of the West Gippsland based District Council 7 is for the processors to pay membership fees for all dairy farmers who desert the VFF/UDV and sign up to the ADF.

Apparently the legal eagles have cleared the proposal from the perspective of ‘compulsory union membership’ but may still face challenges under trade practices law – paying membership fees on behalf of their contractors could be seen as a deliberate attempt to impose control by subterfuge. Perhaps they could engage the services of Costas Socratous, who claims expertise in these matters.

More useful would probably be the retiring Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, John Lloyd, who took on the CFMEU without getting his office foyer firebombed.

The big companies are also nervous about the standpoint of unions covering the dairy industry. If the companies are willing to pay membership fees for farmers who are effectively contractors will they also offer to pay membership fees for their workers?

That could be costly!

There’s also the issue of protecting the interest of Victorian dairy farmers commercially and politically – who will have final say in negotiations over prices and policies that affect farmers? The family farmers, already feeling pressure from the big end of town, certainly don’t want give away more control over their livelihood, industry sources have told VEXNEWS.

VFF President Andrew Broad has effectively been locked out of the discussions within the UDV and was ejected from the last UDV Council meeting on May 17th, despite the UDV being an entity legally controlled by the VFF and the President being entitled to participate.

The proponents for the shift to the ADF also manipulated the agenda at this week’s annual UDV Conference in Moama (26-27 May) to restrict the VFF influence on discussion. Broad was relegated to a speaking spot after debate.

However, Broad and the VFF Board (with one exception – UDV President Chris Griffin, a strong supporter of the shift to the ADF despite being a VFF Board member) aren’t expected to sit back and let the ADF bring the Victorian milking shed crashing down.

The VFF argument has been simple: Why should Victorian farmers sacrifice their current strong position of representation through the nation’s most powerful dairy lobby group, the UDV, for the sake of propping up their less viable counterparts in other states?

The ADF push claims that national representation is the way of the future and that representing state interests is selfish. The VFF disagrees pointing to its strong fight for Victorian farmers on the issue of water rights – a key national issue that is being fought along state lines.

In the normally genteel world of dairy politics, the current attempt by the old duffers at the ADF to stick the spurs into the UDV and VFF is beginning to arouse the ire of the boys in gumboots.



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15 responses to “MOO: Milkers v duffers in representation row

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention MOO: Milkers v duffers in representation row --

  2. Inga Binga

    Dear Mr Landeryou
    Please remove my photograph immediately.

  3. Boofa Leigh

    I just love old things with big udders…..even if they are not real Wenchy!

  4. Wenchy

    Geoff sadly for you I prefer my men well hung, you are all talk and can’t deliver my campaign funds or anything else satisfactory.

  5. No Whey

    Those cattle are Charolais, a beef breed. Holstein- Friesians would have been more appropriate for a dairy article.

    Rookie mistake

  6. ?

    Wow. This bloke sounds like a good candidate on his website. If your right, which you often aren’t, then this fella isn’t fit to run a chook raffle let alone public office.

    FYI – Brouvers got to go. The man is seeking to wield an executioners axe without being accountable in himself. The man’s got to go.

    Corruption ‘cave-in’ PAUL AUSTIN
    June 5, 2010
    .VICTORIA’S chief corruption fighter, Ombudsman George Brouwer, fears Premier John Brumby is taking the state in the wrong direction by caving in to pressure to set up a complex new anti-corruption system.

    In forceful submissions to the Elizabeth Proust review of Victoria’s anti-corruption system, Mr Brouwer makes clear he believes the best and cheapest way to confront official corruption is to bolster the powers of existing agencies and allow his office to scrutinise cabinet documents and investigate ministers, other MPs, ministerial advisers and local councillors.

    But instead, Mr Brumby has accepted Ms Proust’s recommendation that the Ombudsman be downgraded, with some of his powers stripped away and vested in a new Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission.

    The Age understands Mr Brouwer might use a report to Parliament before November’s state election to make public his concerns about the diminution of his role and the complexity of the new anti-corruption system Mr Brumby says he will introduce over the next 18 months.

    Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu has accused Mr Brumby of punishing the Ombudsman for embarrassing the government in a range of critical reports, including on failures in the child protection system and corrupt behaviour in the Labor-dominated Brimbank Council.

    ”John Brumby is undermining and stripping the independent Ombudsman of powers because he has exposed the corruption and incompetence inside the Brumby government,” Mr Baillieu said.

    Mr Brumby denies this, but concedes the Ombudsman’s office is being downgraded, from being a ”de facto crime commission” to taking on more ”traditional” tasks of tackling administrative failures in the public sector and dealing with citizens’ complaints.

    Ms Proust, a former head of the public service, says she considered recommending the Ombudsman’s office be enhanced so it became Victoria’s official top anti-corruption body, but decided instead to call for a new commission.

    Under the Proust model, embraced by Mr Brumby this week, the Ombudsman will lose his power to act on complaints by whistleblowers and be required for the first time to report to a parliamentary committee.

    This is a repudiation of Mr Brouwer, who told Ms Proust he should retain his whistleblower powers and be granted extra powers to pursue allegations of corruption by ”elected officials and members of parliament”.

    In a submission in January, he said it was ”critical” that he continue to report to the Parliament as a whole, not ”individual members of parliament”, because MPs could be conflicted, partisan, subject to political pressures or the subject of an Ombudsman’s investigation.

    In a further submission in March, Mr Brouwer said Victoria’s main corruption-fighting bodies – the Ombudsman, the Office of Police Integrity and the Auditor-General – had been as effective as, and less expensive than, anti-corruption commissions in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

    He said the Victorian system could be Australia’s best if ”gaps” were plugged by strengthening his powers and giving the Ombudsman ”unrestricted coverage of all public officials”.

    He told Ms Proust: ”Any weakening of the powers, extent or coverage of the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman or of his independence … would not be in the public interest or the best interests of good governance.”

    But in her report to Mr Brumby, released on Wednesday, Ms Proust criticised the Ombudsman’s office for the way it conducted investigations.

    She reported claims that the office used intimidating tactics – ”for example, interviews had been conducted in windowless rooms with the investigator seated between the witness and the door”.

    The Ombudsman responded that accusations of unfair tactics tended to come from ”people or associations with vested interest who have been found out” and who wanted to ”attack and undermine the office”.

    ”This applies especially where the Ombudsman has found wrongdoing by elected officials, especially in a political context, as in the case of Brimbank City Council,” he wrote.

    But Ms Proust recommended the Ombudsman Act be ”modernised” to ensure ”the rights of people involved in investigations – both citizens and public officials – are explicitly enshrined in legislation”. ”The Ombudsman must base investigation policies and procedures on codified principles of procedural fairness,” she wrote.

  7. Ben

    I’m glad a city website knows what a steer is! Congratulations!

  8. Melbourne Electorate Resident

    Can any body clarify if these cows belong to Lindsay Tanner?

    I understand he has bought a farm outside of Melbourne – and is currently “in discussions” about looking for an apartment in the western end of his electorate.

    One hopes that he sees fit to ‘stop over’ in his electorate from time to time – in between visiting his colleagues in Canberra, and visiting his family at the farm.

  9. Part Time Tanner

    These are not my cows.

  10. Boofa Leigh

    I promise to try harder next Wednesday night Wenchy. I have been taking lessons. You would not believe from who! Its a big challange I know. But you will be impressed! My word is my honour. On second thougts, perhaps forget the last thing I said…

  11. Wenchy

    As frustrating as you are Geoffrey I’m always ready, willing and able especially if yyou tempt me with plentiful campaign funds.
    Bring my funds Geoff and I’ll be acrobatic” behind Pompeis (lol)!!

  12. Boofa Leigh

    Hummmm. Ham burger. I just loovve ham burger. And muff in. I just love muff out….. I won’t forget to bring the nasel spray this time Wenchy. I am sorry about last time. Those pills just don’t work anymore….especially with ‘her in doors’.

  13. Wenchy

    Maybe Boofa ‘STUD’ we can meet tonight just for some hard, fast & deep wham bam.

  14. Cattle farmer

    This is the first time I have heard that ADF is going broke. What happened to the $10million of investments?

  15. d'oh

    cattle farmer, they gave to some dodgy country solicitor ‘to manage’ is my guess

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