AS TALK of a Cabinet discussion addressing competition policy reform for dairy farmers heats up, relations between Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer and LNP candidate Ted O'Brien have further soured.
Mr O'Brien has accused the controversial Palmer United Party leader of making an opportunistic attempt to gather support, rather than a concerted effort to help local dairy farmers doing it tough.
"If you believe his spin, you'd think Palmer has been going into bat to save our farmers from the squeeze of big retailers after learning about the challenges of dairy farming in Kenilworth," Mr O'Brien said.
"However, if Palmer was fair dinkum about the issue, he would have already facilitated discussions between the farmers and the Federal Government, spoken on the matter in parliament and at the very least actively pursued the matter with the relevant ministers."
Late last month, Mr Palmer said members of the Kenilworth community had expressed concerns about the future of the local dairy farming industry as a result of the effects of the supermarket milk price wars.
"Local Kenilworth dairy farms have had to close as they can no longer continue to be profitable," the Member for Fairfax said.
"The price of milk has been forced lower by major retailers, and local milk producers can no longer earn a living.
"It is destroying local communities like Kenilworth, where people rely on the dairy industry for work."
Mr Palmer said he would call on ministers to tackle the issue and introduce a fairer system.
"The major retailers should not be able to use their size and dominant position to destroy the livelihoods of Australians," he said.
Mr O'Brien, who said he had been working with local dairy farmers and other businesses for years in pursuit of fairer competition policy, dismissed Mr Palmer's comments as words without action.
"The challenges faced by our dairy farmers is a serious matter and should not be used as a play thing," he said.
"Changes to competition policy, which could assist our local farmers, have been discussed for years and Prime Minister Turnbull's commitment to a Cabinet discussion on the matter has given it well-deserved traction."
There has been speculation Mr Turnbull will be supportive of previously shelved competition reforms.
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