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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 124

Senator O’BRIEN (4:02 PM) —I move Labor amendment (9) on sheet 5307 standing in my name:

(9)    Schedule 3, item 2, page 8 (after line 21), after subsection 3AA(5), insert:

Limitation on declaration

      (5A)    The Minister must not make a declaration in accordance with this section unless:

              (a)    the Minster has caused a poll to be conducted of all growers who have paid a wheat export charge as defined in the Wheat Marketing Act 1989 since July 2002; and

              (b)    the poll finds that 51 per cent or more of growers are in support of declaring the specified company; and

              (c)    such further conditions as the Minister considers appropriate.

       (5B)    The poll required to be conducted by subsection (5A) is to be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission in accordance with that Commission’s recommendations for the fair conduct of such a poll.

This is the growers’ support test. If the measures in this legislation are to be enacted in the name of the growers then surely there ought to be evidence that the growers support the measure to be enacted, in this case the very important measure of the declaration of another company as the single desk with all of the protections and the right of veto power. We have heard suggestions that there has been consultation but we have also heard clear responses which indicate that growers were not even shown this legislation and that the Grains Council were not told that they were being removed from the consultation process by the legislation. So how could we have confidence that growers would be supporting some organisation given support by the government?

This is a real test for the bona fides of the coalition, those who claim that this is done in the name of the growers. Why not give the growers an opportunity to have a say in a matter such as this? If the growers support it and if growers give such a body support, then surely that would lend the decision of the minister much more credibility. I believe that this is a fundamental provision that needs to be included in the bill and I urge the Senate to support it.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator O’Brien’s) be agreed to.