Norco milk off the menu in local hospitals

Locally produced Norco milk has been replaced in North Coast hospitals by the foreign-owned brand Dairy Farmers. Photo

Almost all of the 17 hospitals on the North Coast have severed their contracts with locally based milk producer Norco in favour of a company that sends its profits to Japan.

The move follows a tender by NSW HealthShare, which runs the kitchens of most of the local hospitals, in which Norco lost out to the overseas-owned Dairy Farmers.

And while the dairy co-operative says it won’t affect its viability, CEO Greg McNamara said he was ‘gutted’ it had lost the contract.

‘It makes me disappointed that we can’t supply those people in hospital when they are at their lowest point,’ he told local media.

The company has said it would fight the decision but Lismore MP Thomas George (Nationals) said it’s a done deal but he will lobby the health minister to change the tender process for the future.

‘What I’m asking the minister to look at, the possibility when any tenders go out from government – by HealthShare or any other department – that we do provide a local weight for local companies to apply for these tenders and [they be] looked at with a favourable decision,’ he told ABC radio.

But opposition North Coast spokesperson Walt Secord and shadow Primary Industry Nick Veitch (Labor) have slammed the new arrangement.

‘We have the world’s best milk produced on the North Coast by the world’s best farmers from the world’s best cows; and the state government decides to buy its milk from across the border rather than from just up the road,’ Mr Secord said in a statement.

Mr Veitch said the National Party should be putting local jobs first and showing their solidarity with farmers and local Norco workers.

‘Lismore is proud of its heritage as one of the nation’s best known dairy regions; and we should be supporting local products.’

‘Norco is selling its milk and ice cream to China, but Lismore Base Hospital doesn’t want it. That is a disgrace.’

With Lismore Hospital being one of the major sites to be affected, former Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has taken to Facebook to vent her anger about the decision.

‘Appalling decision! There are so many reasons to buy NORCO milk –it’s local, farmer owned, totally Australian and after last year’s flood, buying local is even more important for our local economy and well being. We must change this!’ she wrote.

Ms Dowell added that she understood patients may now go without their Yakult (probiotic drink) as the new tenderer was unable to provide it.


10 responses to “Norco milk off the menu in local hospitals”

  1. Bye Nats says:

    So Thomas said he might amble down the paddock (saying “hi, how’s the kids” to anyone he passes) and maybe he’ll give the gate the horse bolted through a bit of a shove. Maybe. He wouldn’t want to strain himself.
    I thought he was getting paid to represent local interests now?! Not just shrug his shoulders as if he doesn’t know how this happened. First CSG and now this. It’s time we stopped this fiction about Nats representing locals. They clearly don’t. They only represent big end interests of their Liberal Party mates.

    • Peter Hatfield says:

      This is a discussion about protection of local industry versus open competition in the provision of milk for people in public hospitals . These are important economic issues that deserve out attention regardless of the product in question. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the views on the ethics of dairy industry.

  2. S.T. FRANCIS says:

    Norco has a history of cruelty to animals. A PETA Asia eyewitness documented that workers on an Australian dairy farm used a huge mechanical calf puller to wrench and pry Tammy’s baby from her womb, causing her knees to buckle as she cried out in pain and distress.

    The calf died during the forced delivery, and just a few days later, Tammy died, too, after being denied the veterinary care she desperately needed after this assault.

    The people who did this to her should be prosecuted, so we sent our findings, along with a formal complaint, to law-enforcement authorities, but – surprise! – this is considered just business as usual in the dairy industry. Right now, more than a million cows like Tammy are treated as little more than living milk machines before being discarded like old tin cans.

    PETA recently released footage taken by the PETA Asia eyewitness at a New South Wales dairy farm, and the video is helping consumers understand the massive suffering that is behind the dairy “products” on grocery store shelves.

    Newborn calves – little babies – were taken away from their mothers and roughly handled. Sick and lame cows were left in pain for days without veterinary treatment, if they ever got it. Workers killed helpless, “useless” male calves by bludgeoning them repeatedly with hammers and shot mother cows in the head with captive-bolt guns after their milk production declined. Many animals’ bodies were dumped into pits or simply left to rot.

    These horrific practices, typical on dairy farms across Australia, are indefensible, and yet the industry will defend them. Suffering is an ingredient in every glass of cows’ milk, every slice of dairy cheese, and every spoonful of dairy ice cream.

  3. Clive jeffery says:

    This is really outrageous.
    Where a local supplier/producer/employer is able to fulfill a contract then to avoid this outcome in the future or to at least make an adverse outcome less likely then NSW Healthshare could consider introducing a “weighted” tender system. This could perhaps allocate points to a local supplier/employer which (only if required) would have the effect of reducing the dollar amount actually tendered while at the same time the same points scheme would (again only if required) increase the amount tendered by a foreign based/owned company.

    Also, Norco should perhaps have “sharpened the pencil” somewhat.

    No use crying over spilled milk! It is though a rotten outcome.

    • Peter Hatfield says:

      There is a plinth in railway square in the Bay to Bill Clifford , “The father of the creamery” and the man who made NORCO a great company by sailing to Britain and the US to sell its butter and other products. NORCO was built on openness to the markets not on protected local markets.

      Any preferencing of NSW producers over interstate producers risks similar calls for purchasing preferencing by the QLD government that could harm contractors from our region – particularly the Tweed . Any preferencing of Australian firms over overseas firms in our government tendering undermines our ability to negotiate access by Australian providers to the far more lucrative contract opportunities available in much larger countries. On this issue local Labor representatives are using a Hansonite rhetoric of economic nationalism that is unsupported by any Australian Labor policy on interstate and international trade, to advocate for measures that if applied across Australia would undermine our region and our nation’s prosperity .

  4. Michelle Thornton says:

    How disgusting that our homegrown products are discarded for foreign produce!
    Our government is certainly not working for our country….they’re too bloody busy selling it off to Asian countries! It time to oust all of the political parties who do not support our local producers and workers!
    Liberal, Labor, Greens all need to go..I will never vote for any of these parties ever again! The Traitors need to be hung! ?

  5. Peter Hatfield says:

    As the Health Department has made a decision on value for money to buy QLD milk, I am concerned purchasing NORCO product only because it is local is against the spirit if not the letter of Section 92 of the Constitution. Section 92 does not allow measures by state governments that are restraints to free trade. This sort of parochialism puts at risk the jobs of people in the Northern Rivers who are dependent on contracts with the QLD Government and Gold Coast Council – that is why we have Section 92.

    Accordingly I put those concerns to Wal Secord on his Facebook site and asked if it was valid under Section 92 to purchase a product only because it is from NSW rather than QLD? He deleted my post so presumably he is unsure if what he – and other Labor MPs and at least one Lismore Labor Councillor – are proposing is indeed valid I would have though in the light of the Section 44 debacle Labor MPs would appreciate help in ensuring they meet their constitutional requirements rather than dismissing it.

  6. lynne Ashcroft says:

    This is a really poor decision and lacks foresight and consideration of the benefits of buying local. Who mkes these decisions and what does it say about management…they are obviously not doing the hard yards that keep their customer base solid and loyal, having said that if they are able to maintain chinese contracts for their produce why are they unable to maintain local contracts….there is something amiss here!

  7. Richard Swinton says:

    I’m not in favour of Trump style protectionism, but it does seem weird that there is no consideration of the impact on local employment and industry when decisions like that are made. After all, life is not just about making profits – or have I missed something somewhere?
    It’s all very well to say ‘Buy Australian’, but that apparently doesn’t apply to big institutions.
    Another issue – dairy farmers aren’t in a stop and go industry – it takes years to breed up a decent high quality herd and the cows produce milk whether it’s wanted or not. If dairy farmers so no future, they sell the herd and go into some other industry -= and then suddenly the demand changes, prices go up,, but there isn;t any more milk available! The complications of trying to apply simple supply and demand economics to a long term industry. The processors and purchasers should think of the long term as the farmers do, not just the present cost.

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