Murray Goulburn Settles with ACCC over Farmgate Milk Prices

Murray Goulburn has agreed to settle a court case with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over allegations that the milk processing company misled farmers about milk prices.

Under the settlement, which is subject to the Federal Court approval, MG will be exempt from financial penalties while former managing director Gary Helou is expected to face up to $220,000 per breach. MG and Helou has admitted to the contraventions.

“Murray Goulburn is pleased to have reached an agreement with the ACCC on this matter,” said chairman John Spark.

The news came two years after MG cut the farmgate milk price it paid farmers, leading to a crisis in the dairy sector. Canadian dairy business Saputo acquired MG in May in a $1.3 billion after the co-operative’s value slumped.

The ACCC brought out the case in April last year, alleging that Helou and former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle “were knowingly concerned in Murray Goulburn’s conduct”. Hingle settled with the ACCC in August with a payment of $50,000 for the watchdog’s costs and a prohibition to be “directly or indirectly involved in the management of a corporation which carries on business in the dairy industry” for three years.

MG remains subject to two class actions organised by John Webster and law firm Slater and Gordon.