A family-owned Queensland dairy missed out on a contract to provide products to some of the state’s largest hospitals, after the tender was granted to French and Chinese owned companies instead.
Maleny Dairies, which is based on the Sunshine Coast and employs 50 members of the local community, shared a scathing statement on Facebook on Thursday, slamming the Queensland Government tender process which they claim was based on costs alone.
“Had Maleny Dairies been awarded the tender, it would have ensured the safe guarding of the local work force employed by the company and that of our dairy farms,” a spokesperson for the dairy wrote.
“In this case the tender process appears to have been solely focused on the ability to deliver the cheapest milk regardless the consequences to local employment and industry.”
The post went on to explain that Maleny Dairies had been encouraged to bid on the contract, claiming that they stated from the outset that they “couldn’t compete on price” with some of the larger international companies. However it eventually went to French-owned Lactalis and Chinese owned Lion Dairy and Drinks.
Many people came out in support of the dairy on social media, with one person saying: “That’s just not right, you put in all the hard yards supporting the farmers right through to the consumer, hopefully you will get a second hearing, go hard.”
Another commented: “As a family we continue to support and buy Maleny Dairies products. As a granddaughter, great granddaughter of a Witta dairy farmer I am sad to see what has happened in this essential industry.”
However the government claimed that Maleny Dairies did not meet the requirements for the tender, with a spokesperson for Metro North Hospital and Health Service telling the Courier Mail: “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 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.”
The award-winning dairy also listed a number of points and called for clarification from Queensland State Government in relation to its Procurement Policy. These included the fact that Maleny Dairies had actively supported the government’s ‘Buy Local’ initiative in 2019, while they claimed that Lacatalis and Lions did not do the same.
They also quoted the government’s promise to “support local Queensland owned businesses and Queensland jobs”, despite the tender being handed to a Chinese and French owned company.
A spokesperson for the dairy added: “It appears to us from a community perspective that the Minister for Health has focused singularly on his problem of cost blowout and cutting budgets and as a consequence has been blindsided by that process to the broader implications both at the community and government policy level.
“Maleny Dairies is seeking an urgent conversation with the Premier and the Minister for Health to understand if this is the case, and as a result, the tender process can be reviewed.”