THE people of Kiewa-Tangambalanga are still waiting for Murray Goulburn’s senior management and board to detail the effects across the next 16 months of the co-operative’s decision almost three weeks ago to axe its 135-strong Kiewa milk processing workforce.
Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) wants to ensure the embattled firm is held to its legal and moral obligations to employees and to the community after what she described on Monday as “a hit in the guts”
But she wants to encourage the rapid exploration of a co-operative option to extend dairying in the North East valleys.
“I reckon once we get over this particular hump – and with will and goodwill we will – we won’t transition,” she told a meeting of 115 workers, farmers, union representatives and parliamentarians convened by Indigo Shire Council in Tangambalanga.
“Let’s then design something that’s going to work for us for a bit longer.
“…Because with the demise of Murray Goulburn for us, we say ‘goodbye’, and we look to what we can do better and how we can do it better, because the world is crying out for milk and milk products and value-adding.
“And I’d be bold enough to say that I think Murray Goulburn lost its way with its co-operative (but) we could go forward to a very strong co-operative movement.”
Ms McGowan said she wanted to raise the idea in a meeting with federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash which is to be attended by Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor and Murray Goulburn Kiewa employee, union and community representatives in Canberra next week.
“…The Commonwealth has a program of support farmer co-operatives, and we’ve been in touch with the (government),” Ms McGowan said.
“So (the government) has money to support legal work, preparatory work to get a new co-op started if we want to do that – so there’s going to be a lot of help out there.
“But the help is only useful when we know what we want…and we have (a community working party) and time to work out as a community how to go where we want to go and actually design a way that works for us.”
Ms McGowan said if Murray Goulburn wanted to “play hardball” – and retain its Kiewa factory in mothballs – then out of that could develop an opportunity to make the most of world demand for high quality North East milk and milk products.
This post is part of the thread: Kiewa-Tangambalanga dairy crisis – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.