The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Australia's largest milk processor, Murray Goulburn, alleging it engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC also alleges that former managing director Gary Helou and former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle were knowingly concerned in Murray Goulburn’s conduct.
“The allegations relate to representations made by Murray Goulburn to its Southern Milk Region dairy farmers between June 2015 and April 2016 about the average farmgate milk price (FMP) it expected to pay them during financial year 2015/16 (FY16),” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC alleges that Murray Goulburn’s conduct had an adverse impact on many farmers who, as a result of Murray Goulburn’s representations regarding the farmgate milk price, had made business decisions.”
“The farmers relied on Murray Goulburn’s representations and were not expecting a substantial reduction in the farmgate milk price, particularly so close to the end of the season when it was not possible for them to practically readjust their expenditure,” Mr Sims said.
In a statement to the ASX on Friday, Murray Goulburn said it had been notified of the proceedings.
"The proceedings have been served on MG today and allege that MG engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. These allegations arise in connection with the milk price decrease announced by MG in April 2016," the statement said.
"MG is considering the proceedings, however notes that ACCC has decided not to seek a pecuniary penalty against MG."
For more, see next week's edition of the Courier.