Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has slammed Coles over its "milk levy" and Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund, which has now become a farce.
The original idea of a milk levy floated by the Queensland Diary Organisation was that it would be applied to all brands of milk and go back to the processors who supply the supermarkets, so the extra 10 cents per litre supplied could be paid directly to the farmers by the processors for the milk they'd supplied.
There is now no guarantee the money Coles collects will even go to the farmers who supply its supermarket with milk, let alone be paid according to the volume of milk they supply Coles.
"Coles never wanted to make sure farmers got fairer pay and made a hasty announcement to match their competitor," Minister Littleproud said.
"I was initially prepared to give the benefit of the doubt but it hasn't been followed up with good policy work - it's an empty media stunt.
"The result is a half-baked policy which only applies to Coles' 3-litre variety of their own milk brand - and may not even go back to the farmers who supply that tiny portion of drinking milk.
"I was also disappointed Woolworths only applied the levy to their own $1 milk.”
Minister Littleproud conceded Coles and Woolworths had committed more than Aldi which has refused to look at a levy at all.
“The big German can go and take a running jump if they can’t be bothered to support Australian dairy farmers,” Mr Littleproud said.
"The best thing shoppers can do is buy branded milk, not supermarket brand milk or better still, shop at independent grocers.
"Personally, I don't shop at the big supermarkets. They've got a lot to answer for. The big supermarkets can't just wash their hands and claim the fact farmers going broke is nothing to do with them.
"The fact is the milk market needs real reform. It's not working. I've begun work on a mandatory code of conduct for the sector since the Australian Dairy Farmers group called for it, and much more reform is needed."
Source: Australian Government