Award-winning Qld dairy slams hospital milk tender

AN AWARD-WINNING Sunshine Coast dairy company has been overlooked to supply products to some of Queensland's largest public hospitals, with a tender being awarded to Chinese and French-owned companies instead.

Maleny Dairies issued a scathing statement late yesterday, slamming the State ­Government for picking international companies, including French-owned Lactalis Australia, that produce milk.

The company claimed that if it had been awarded the two-year contract, it would have safeguarded local jobs at a time when Queensland dairy farms in decline.

But the Government said the company didn't meet the requirements for the tender.

A spokesman for Metro North Hospital and Health Service said contracts were assessed in line with the Queensland Procurement Policy, with all tenderers asked to provide information about local benefit and value for money.

"We recognise the importance of ­supporting local providers wherever possible, however due to the volumes and complexity of some contracts, larger suppliers are often required to fulfil these requirements," the spokesman said.

"The successful dairy contractor sources a larger proportion of milk from the Queensland dairy pool.

"The contractor is also the only tenderer able to supply the full range of full and low-fat products required, including milk, cheese and yoghurt, to meet the dietary standards and varied ­requirements of our patients."

Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper samples some his company's product.
Maleny Dairies owner Ross Hopper samples some his company's product.

A Maleny Dairies spokesman said the company was family-owned and employed about 50 local staff.

"Maleny Dairies farmers needed that contract and so did we," he said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said contracting foreign firms made a mockery of Labor's "buy local" policy.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson also slammed the move and called on the Palaszczuk Government to overturn the decision.

"This is absolute hypocrisy from Premier Palaszczuk, who will happily send taxpayer funds to multinationals Lactalis and Lions, who pay negligible tax in Australia, when we have one of the best milk providers in the nation right here in south east Queensland," Senator Hanson said.

"Maleny Dairies is ready and able to fulfil the contract of up to 15,000 litres for local hospitals; it is a solid award-winning Queensland company that has created jobs and supports locals by buying directly from farmers around the state's southeast.

"I'm calling on the Labor Government to do the right thing, overturn the hospital milk contract and give it instead to a local provider; come on Premier, follow your own promotions, support local jobs, and put Queensland businesses first."