On 14 September 2016, the Senate referred an inquiry into the Australian dairy industry to the Senate Economics References Committee for report by 24 February 2017, in order to establish a fair, long-term solution to Australia's dairy crisis, with particular reference to fresh milk security and;
• the legality of retrospective elements of milk contracts;
• the behaviour of Murray Goulburn; and
• any other related matters.
Since deregulation in 1999, the Australian dairy industry has undergone a series of structural changes, resulting in a significant consolidation of dairy farm enterprises and widespread privatisation of processors. At the same time, retail competition in the dairy product sector has intensified with the aggressive promotion of 'private label' or 'homebrand' products—exemplified by the availability of $1 per litre milk since 2011. While there is no argument that low retail prices have been beneficial to consumers' purchasing power, a significant amount of value has been removed from the dairy value chain which has affected the viability of dairy farmers and processors.