Attempts by the Milk Vendors' Association to renege on an agreed timeframe for reform of the milk distribution industry have been labelled contemptible by Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge.
"In June last year, in a submission to the Dairy Industry Authority, the Association stated that the Government should cease to have any regulatory interest in milk distribution from July 1993," Mr Bridge said.
"It has now changed its mind, and is trying to use the coming election to suspend the whole reform process. Its actions are deplorable."
Mr Bridge said the Association had openly threatened to campaign against the Government in marginal seats if it did not allow it to renege on the agreement.
"It would be quite wrong of me to stop important reforms for purely political reasons, and having conveyed this to the Association, I understand they have now commenced a letterdrop campaign in Whitford," he said.
"I would urge people who are concerned about this issue to contact my office on 481 2044 for a full briefing on why the reforms are taking place, and the exhaustive review and consultation which preceeded their implementation."
Mr Bridge said the Government was removing all unnecessary controls on milk distribution to allow vendors and distributors from July 1993 to operate in any district rather than being confined to narrowly defined zones.
"This will ensure the industry is competitive, and allow the more efficient vendors and distributors to compete in areas where inefficient operators currently call the tune," he said.
"It will also give home consumers and retail outlets a real choice in who they want to deliver their milk, taking into account the level of service being offered.
"These reforms are fully supported by the Dairy Industry Authority, and implementation commenced only after lengthy consultation with the industry.
"Judging from the calls coming in to my office, the Association's stand is not supported by all vendors, as there are many who recognise that deregulation will give them a much greater capacity to operate efficiently."