Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (16:22): The Nationals and Liberals love to say how much they help farmers. They like to say they are standing up for farmers, that they have our farmers' backs and that they are the only ones working to protect farmers' rights. They come to regional and rural areas like mine at election time and they make all kinds of promises about how they will support farmers, but, once the election is over, it's a different story. It's a different story for our struggling dairy farmers on the New South Wales South Coast who have been abandoned by this government. It was a different story in the Senate only two weeks ago when The Nationals and the Liberals voted against desperately needed help for dairy farmers. The Liberal-National government is simply not serious about helping dairy farmers. They have had absolutely every opportunity to take real action, but they have wasted those opportunities. They have walked away from dairy farmers.
At the election, I worked hard to secure a Labor commitment to a minimum farmgate price for dairy. I know how dairy farmers are struggling. I speak to dairy farmers in my electorate and I hear their stories of struggle. I come from a long-time dairy farming family, and I know how hard it is for local farmers. I see they are in crisis. I see what this drought is doing to them, but the Prime Minister, when he came to my electorate during the election, wouldn't even speak with local farmers. Local farmer Rob Miller tried to talk to him. He tried to tell him, but the Prime Minister just drove on past. That is their attitude. That is how they treat farmers.
Perhaps that explains why the Liberal-National government chose to vote down a bill that could have finally helped the dairy industry. That bill would have seen a minimum farmgate price for milk investigated. The member for Hunter and I worked hard on Labor's policy at the last election. We met with farmers. We talked with them about what they wanted. But the government has voted that bill down. The bill also would have ensured that the long-promised dairy code of conduct could be quickly adopted. It was recommended by the ACCC in April 2018, and we are still waiting; we still don't know when it will come. Now Dairy Connect and other farmers fear that it will not protect family-run dairy farms like it promised—another broken promise from a government steeped in dysfunction and chaos.
I am going to keep saying this until it sinks in for those opposite: our dairy industry is in crisis. Our dairy farmers need help. The government has failed our dairy farmers. I am not going to stand by while the Liberal-National government allows dysfunction and chaos to delay the vital support that local farmers need. When the government announced its long-awaited drought package, local farmers in my electorate had hope. But that hope was soon squashed when not only were the council areas in my electorate left out of the package but it appeared we were, in fact, now worse off—absolutely shocking! What a slap in the face to farmers on the South Coast doing it tough.
Local dairy farmers are dealing with a long-running cost price squeeze, with a race to the bottom for milk prices. This is being compounded every day by this drought that the government keeps telling them they are not in. Rob Miller tried to tell the Prime Minister how hard it is. He tried to tell him, 'It's cheaper to wash your car with milk than it is with water,' but the Prime Minister didn't want to listen, and he is still not listening. I am appalled that this government would vote against real help and support for our dairy farmers. I will not let go. I will not turn my back on local farmers. I will keep fighting for them. I am one of them.