Environmental lawyer, Sue Higginson, who specialises in land use conflict says the Nationals have betrayed their community with the decision of HealthShare NSW to choose foreign owned dairy farmers milk over that of Norco.
‘Like many in our community, I’m disappointed that NSW Health has chosen a foreign multinational company as its milk supplier rather than the local farmer owned cooperative Norco,’ Ms Higginson said.
‘This adds to the Nationals’ track record of shafting local farmers for big business.
Ms Higginson said she is a farmer herself and knows how tough it is securing contracts and getting your product to market.
‘Just now I’m harvesting 30 hectares of dryland rice and I know how important local markets are,’ she said.
‘Norco is a staple of our region and has an admirable history in supporting dairy farmers and riding out the pitfalls of deregulation and supermarket price wars. They shouldn’t be kicked to the ground by the Nationals when dairy farmers are already struggling.
‘Its not good enough for the Nationals to blame Healthshare NSW’s procurement policy. The procurement policy should weight local businesses more favourably, like councils have done in our local area. This is precisely where our political representatives should be active, Ms Higginson said.
Meanwhile, the opposition has called out Nationals North Coast-based MLC Ben Franklin, who it says ‘refuses to take a strong public stand on important tough issues like North Coast farmers and jobs.
Shadow North Coast spokesperson Walt Secord said Mr Franklin had been ‘absolutely silent on the Norco milk debacle’.
‘His silence shows that he must support the decision to cancel the contracts.’
‘Mr Franklin must state clearly whether he supports his government’s decision to slash jobs on the North Coast or is he with North Coast dairy farmers and hospital workers who vehemently oppose the decision to cancel Norco dairy contracts?’
Mr Secord said community opposition is ‘growing by the hour’ and ‘hundreds of residents are signing an online petition’.
The petition to restore Norco milk to local hospitals can be found here. https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/local-milk-in-local-hospitals