Livestock agents claim “damage to business over rumour”

Livestock agents claim “damage to business over rumour”


Commercial
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Red meat processing sector senate inquiry report due this afternoon.

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LIVESTOCK agents have reiterated their frustration at what they see as a lack of solutions and proof coming out of the senate inquiry into the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector.

With the final report due to be handed down this afternoon, agents have once again said they do not agree with any recommendation for a mandatory buyer’s register.

In answers to written questions on notice supplied by the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association received by the inquiry, chief executive officer Andy Madigan said the recommendation contravenes some existing legislation.

As a case in point, he quoted the Queensland Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Regulation 2014, which states “A chattel auctioneer must not disclose the identity of a bidder registered by the auctioneer under section 28 to anyone other than an inspector or court.”

“The buyer of livestock is announced at the fall of the hammer,” Mr Madigan said.

“We question what difference or any benefit it makes to competition by having a list of possible buyers for public display.

“We are unaware of any other auction type that has a public register. Surely someone’s privacy must be respected.”

Agents across the country have expressed frustration to Fairfax Media that they have had to provide responses to the same questions over and over.

Mr Madigan goes on to say ALPA is concerned with the transparency argument that has been bandied around about collusion.

“Where is the proof? Where are the prosecutions?” he said.

“This is damaging our business with rumour.”

Saleyards sell approximately 3.5m cattle at an average of $1200 per head and 20m sheep and lambs at an average of $100 a head, the ALPA response said.

This equates to saleyard transactions over more than $6b and number of lots sold per annum of at least 2m.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s six-month study found a possible three cases of collusion - “not even worth reporting as a percentage” according to Mr Madigan.

“The auction system is one of the most transparent pricing mechanisms available,” he said.

“Buyers and vendors can see the livestock that are being sold, can compare livestock and pay accordingly.”

Elders livestock sales manager Queensland Paul Holm agreed the process had been damaging to business.

The concern was people were making statements without full knowledge, he said.

“Just because someone owns a few cows doesn’t mean they have a full understanding of the industry or see the entire picture,” he said.

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