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Govt Inaction Jeopardising Mega-Merger

National Agriculture spokesperson Gavan Herlihy today expressed concern that Government inaction is jeopardising the dairy industry's plan to establish the Global Dairy Company for the start of next season.

"Dairy industry leaders cannot enter into meaningful discussion with the Government as the Government is not putting its cards on the table. Industry leaders are understandably becoming increasingly frustrated.

"It's now over two months since the industry's proposal was put to the Government, yet all that appears to be happening at the Government-end are requests for more industry information.

"There are issues of public policy to be worked through. But I share the industry's frustration that they have not been given any indication of the Government's bottom-line on such pivotal issues as competition on the local market and the fair exit and entry value for dairy farmers.

"If the merger is to proceed it is imperative that it be in train for the 2001/02 season. If not, historical differences between the two major players, Dairy Group and Kiwi, could re-emerge to sink the Global Dairy Company proposal.

"Further, our industry's initiatives in the Australian dairy industry could well lose momentum. For the sake of our number one industry in New Zealand, the Global Dairy Company proposal cannot be allowed to flounder just because Government can't arrive at its own policy position.

"I call on the Government to table its response to the dairy industry's proposals, made public and delivered to the Government pre-Christmas, so that the industry can respond, and informed debate can then take place in the rural heartland.

"Dairy farmers are frustrated at the lack of information on which to judge the merger proposal. Dairy company directors are coming under fire. But the blame lies firmly at the Government's feet.

The Government must act now. If the industry fails to reach the target of having the new structure in place for the coming 2001/02 season it will be the Government's responsibility," Mr Herlihy said.


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