Just when we thought things could not get any worse for the electorate of Wright, having just battled devastating floods and the displacement of people from their homes and their families, we took a fairly substantial hit to our dairy sector with reference to Coles pricing. I rise to inform the House that my area in the Lockyer Valley and Fassifern Valley produces just about 100 per cent of Queensland's beetroot production for Golden Circle, which is a subsidiary of Heinz. Heinz, as of the weekend, made a decision to send their beetroot lines offshore. The decision will result in the loss of 160 jobs at the Golden Circle Northgate plant in Brisbane, 146 jobs at Girgarre in northern Victoria and another 38 jobs at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. Those jobs are going offshore as a result of Australia's incapacity to compete because of the increasing costs that our processors have to deal with on a daily basis.
Just to give you some statistics and an overview of the Lockyer Valley and the Fassifern Valley, there are about 20,000 acres of irrigated horticultural production. There are about 2,000 acres of beetroot, which is about 10 per cent of the production of the whole valley. Even though there are only nine contracts, the tentacles into the community affect about 20 to 30 farmers, because the farmer will hedge out and set the tentacles through the valley. The growing period for the beetroot is between February and June, so it is quite a substantial growing time. It is four months for what will become sliced beetroot but for the little beets it is only about three months. Annually the valley produces about 20,000 tonnes, which is a net gain to the growers of about $4.5 million direct input, and with a multiplier of about four it is roughly $16 million worth of input into the region.
As a consequence, the growers have had to specialise over the years. The multinationals and Golden Circle did not want to deal with 30 growers; they only wanted to deal with a couple. These guys have had to find cost efficiencies and vertical integration, so they have specialised machines that they cannot use for other things. We will be looking for assistance packages to help these guys restructure. The sensitivity of the market means they cannot just go and put 20 tonnes of carrot into the market because it will tip the balance in the market one way and it could throw the whole valley or the whole Australian sector into turmoil. The loss of jobs will have a huge impact in the area.
In closing, I would encourage everyone in parliament and everyone in Australia to do themselves a favour and go and get themselves a tin of Golden Circle beetroot, because it will become a collector's item.