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Message to Wimmera Mallee wheat growers from John Forrest.



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Media Contact Sally Turvey (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

John Forrest MP National Party Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03) 5032 9407

Thursday, 30 November 2006

MESSAGE TO WIMMERA MALLEE WHEAT GROWERS FROM JOHN FORREST

Despite wheat growers being busy harvesting their meagre crops, many have taken the opportunity to call The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee, John Forrest following the publication of the Cole Inquiry report.

Mr Forrest appealed for calm advising he will insist on a “hasten steady” approach to address the repercussions of the report.

“We have all been let down by the activities of AWB Ltd. Officers”, he said.

“Any reading of the 5 volumes of Terry Cole’s report reveals a systematic cover-up of the knowledge of where facilitation payments in Iraq were ending up.

“But we must move on now and for me there are three major priorities”, he said.

“One is the orderly marketing arrangements and the existence of the single desk. They were not part of the terms of reference for Terry Cole. The orderly marketing arrangements in place for wheat have served us well for over 60 years and I am determined that they be retained,” Mr Forrest stated.

“The second priority is to ensure that my wheat growers are adequately consulted in regard to the future of the single desk and my third priority is to re-establish the credibility of AWB Ltd in the market place.

“The Prime Minister has assured me that this consultation will occur.

“Nothing must be done in the immediate short-term to undermine the current harvest and the pool arrangements. Wheat growers have enough to contend with; with the worst drought in modern history”, said Mr Forrest.

“At this stage the integrity of the single desk must be preserved against the international calls for it to be dismantled. I do not represent American or European wheat growers, I represent Australian wheat growers and it is their interests that are paramount. …2/

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Media Contact Sally Turvey (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

“I am extremely disappointed to have been let down so badly by AWB Ltd. We trusted them with the allocation of an export monopoly as a private corporate entity and it is evident from their behaviour that this trust was abused. However that does not move me away from the status quo. Except that I will insist that there is future accountability”, Mr Forrest stated.

“The central issue is the right of veto of export licence applications by AWB Ltd. and whether they should retain that power of veto. This is a pivotal question and central to where we go from here. Despite the disappointing behaviour of AWB I still do not believe it is I necessary to take such a prominent step without comprehensive consultation. I will ensure adequate consultation is conducted with my growers”, Mr Forrest concluded.