Pauline Hanson has called for Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie to resign over her “diabolical” handling of the mandatory dairy code of conduct.
The One Nation leader also took aim at Senator McKenzie, who is the Nationals’ deputy leader, because her party didn’t support a bill aimed at putting a minimum milk price in place.
Senator Hanson’s private bill, which was defeated 31 votes to 30 on Monday, would have tasked the competition watchdog with determining a base price for milk.
A mandatory code of conduct for the food and grocery industry – including dairy – would have also been established.
The One Nation leader is angry about the government’s draft dairy code of conduct, which is out for its third and final round of consultation.
“Senator McKenzie’s handling of this whole code issue has been diabolical, it’s an absolute dog’s breakfast,” Senator Hanson said in a statement.
“I’m dumbfounded over what has been her incompetence on this matter; it beggars belief, so I think she has no option but to resign.”
She questioned if the code, which the government has brought forward, had been drawn up by the agency responsible for drafting laws.
Senator McKenzie confirmed her department and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel drafted the code based on consultations before the election
“There were no revisions in my office; there was nothing,” she told parliament.
“You can rest assured that the consultations with the processors and with the dairy farmers across eight very specific and unique dairy regions in this country all come to bear in the code that is out as an exposure draft now.”
The agriculture minister also took a shot at Senator Hanson before starting to explain the extensive consultation process.
“I forgot you’re actually new to this issue, so you probably don’t appreciate the history,” she said.
Senator McKenzie said the code of conduct was part of a suite of measures to help the ailing dairy industry.
“Anyone in this room who thinks a dairy code is going to solve every problem for the dairy industry in this country is kidding themselves,” she said.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon criticised Nationals backbenchers Perin Davey, Susan McDonald and Sam McMahon for voting against Senator Hanson’s bill.
“The Nationals had a chance to stand up for dairy farmers but instead they chose to sell-out and stick to the prime minister’s plan to do nothing,” he said.