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Greens propose amendments to break wheat deadlock



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Media Release - 24 October 2012

Greens propose amendments to break wheat deadlock

The Australian Greens are proposing amendments to break the ongoing political deadlock surrounding reforms to Australia’s wheat industry.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on agriculture says the amendments to the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill 2012 seek to deliver the best outcomes for growers across the country.

“The wheat export industry is at different stages in respect to deregulation around the country and the Greens are not able to support the Bill as it stands.

“While some wheat farmers in Western Australia support the full deregulation of the industry, other wheat growers, particularly in the Eastern states, believe that some oversight is still necessary.

“Our amendments maintain some important checks and balances to ensure a level playing field for all wheat growers.

“The Greens supported the initial move towards deregulation of the industry in 2008 but have always been conscious that as we move out from under the shadow of the single desk monopoly, a degree of regulation would be necessary to ensure a level playing field for our wheat growers.

“The proposed takeover of Graincorp is an example of why some level of regulation is needed in the wheat market. There is an ongoing risk of monopolies being established to the detriment of growers. Our amendments ensure that protections, such as the availably and transparency of information, are secured for within the legislation.

“I have participated in Senate Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Committee inquiries into wheat, and heard loud and clear that there are a range of issues that still need to be resolved before we can expect to see a mature industry capable of self-regulation. The Government Bill is pushing as quickly as possible to full deregulation, without regard to the issues that still need to be addressed.

“Our amendments place conditions on the abolition of the Wheat Export Authority, firstly that the Government establishes a new body by 1 July 2013 to provide quality assurance and information to growers in areas such as wheat stocks and port capacity. The specific details of such an organisation, such as funding and operation, needs to be determined through full and proper consultation with industry.

“Our amendments also seek to ensure the code of conduct that is currently being negotiated by industry participants, is mandatory and enforceable rather than the voluntary code that the Government proposes.

“These amendments provide important security and certainty for growers into the future,

moving us a step closer to a mature industry” Senator Siewert concluded.

Media Enquiries - Chris Redman on 0418 401 180

Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill 2012 - Australian Greens Amendments

Firstly, the Greens will support Schedule 1 of the Bill that winds up the accreditation scheme

for wheat exporters. It is generally acknowledged the accreditation scheme in the Bill has

run its course and is no longer necessary.

Secondly, the Greens will make their support of Schedule 2 of the Bill which abolishes the

Wheat Export Authority conditional upon the Government establishing a new body by 1

July 2013 with the following functions:

(a) facilitate the development of grain quality standards for the wheat export

industry that:

(i) provide for the accurate certification of grain quality; and

(ii) are underpinned by uniform and accepted terminology; and

(iii) give users access to information that will enable them to determine end-product yield and quality; and

(iv) provide a framework for markets to establish grain quality improvement

incentives; and

(v) reflect the value of the end uses of grain; and

(vi) take into account scientific and other developments relating to the end

use performance of grain;

(b) ensure the publication of timely and accurate port capacity information;

(c) ensure the publication of timely and accurate grain stocks information; and

(d) advocacy of the Australian wheat export industry, domestically and

internationally.

We are not determining the exact nature or funding arrangements for the new body. These

should be decided in consultation with the industry. We are more concerned with ensuring

the key functions listed above are actually performed before the Wheat Export Authority is

abolished.

Finally, the Greens will support Schedule 3 of the Bill which repeals the Wheat Export

Marketing Act 2008 in its entirety on the condition that the Code of Conduct referred to in

section 12 of the Bill relating to access arrangements to port terminals is declared by

regulation a mandatory industry code under section 51AE of the Competition and Consumer

Act 2010 by 1 October 2014. A mandatory industry code under section 51AE is overseen by

the ACCC, including through the auditing powers of the ACCC to monitor compliance.

The Greens will move amendments to implement this solution which protects the interests

of wheat farmers, addresses long term concerns of wheat growers and provides a fair export

environment.