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Dairy Merger Must Be Scrutinised

Sunday 8th Apr 2001 Penny Webster Media Release -- Other

Allowing the GlobalCo dairy merger proposal to avoid Commerce Commission scrutiny would be an abuse of Government power and could backfire on vulnerable farmers and the whole country, ACT MP and dairy farmer Penny Webster said today.

“We must have calm scrutiny of this proposal. I fear the consequences if we blindly place the future of the dairy industry in the hands of one group of people with one set of ideas – ideas that haven’t been independently assessed for their effectiveness. This really is putting all your eggs in one basket. If the people who would run GlobalCo get the strategy wrong, they could mess up the whole industry here, which would be disastrous for farmers and for all New Zealanders.

“As well, what sort of signals would the Government be sending if it allows this country’s biggest business to form itself into a virtual monopoly without proper scrutiny. Any other business, whether locally or overseas owned would have to put such a merger before the Commerce Commission. What are all the companies who have in good faith applied for the Commission’s approval for a takeover or merger to think of this?

“If the proposal were sound, it would breeze through the Commerce Commission. Why should it be given special treatment? This merger is far too important to the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and sharemilkers to bypass the business watchdog.

“I just think the dairy industry leaders themselves know that the proposal wouldn’t stand up to independent scrutiny. They’ve pulled the wool over the farmers and now, it seems, are doing the same to the Government.

“There are many issues which need to be examined properly before this merger should be allowed.

“Some of the issues we must examine include lumping Livestock Improvement into the transfer package. Sharemilkers have made a huge investment into that company, and they will be left out in the cold along with every Westland and Tatua supplier, and the small-town milk companies.

“We must also ensure that sharemilkers don’t continue to miss out on shares, after campaigning for years to be shareholders of dairy companies.

“If the Government lets GlobalCo bypass all checks and controls, it will be showing scant regard for the security of the farmers and all New Zealanders,” Penny Webster concluded.


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