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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12814

Wheat Exports


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Will the minister update the House on the government's plans for the reform of wheat export marketing rules? What obstacles stand in the way of wheat growers who wish to choose their own customers?


Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (14:57): I thank the member for Fremantle for her question. It is good to have a number of Western Australian members of this parliament who will be defending the interests of Western Australian wheat growers, because there are quite a number who intend to vote entirely against the interests of wheat growers. The process of moving away from the truly ugly days of the AWB monopoly has gone through a few stages. We began with an entirely regulated and controlled system. We then went through a system of partial deregulation in the last term, and we have legislation before the parliament now for full deregulation. There were media conferences before we came into parliament today, with a number of additional undertakings, such as switching with the ACCC from a voluntary code to a mandatory code, that have been of particular interest to the Greens. I am pleased that those negotiations have gone the way they have.

But think, in the plan of deregulation, about the pathway we have gone down. When I was agriculture minister and introduced the first stage of that plan, we did have amendments from those opposite. They said we were not going far enough. They said that the amendments that were designed by the member for Groom, that were put forward in the Senate and that were accepted by us—when the Liberal Party were going ahead with the values that the Liberal Party were meant to hold, back with Brendan Nelson—were all about saying, 'You're not pro-market enough.' All we are saying here is that a wheat grower grows the wheat and they should be able to choose who they sell it to. But these days the only thing we are asking from the Liberal Party is that they in some way support free enterprise. It has become too much to ask the modern Liberal Party to be on the side of free enterprise.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will resume his seat. My apologies, I was not aware the member for Barker was seeking the call.

Mr Secker: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on anticipating the discussion of a matter listed on the Notice Paper—standing order 77.

The SPEAKER: The member for Barker will resume his seat.

Mr Albanese: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The anticipation rule does not apply, but I understand the member's concern.

Mr BURKE: If there were ever an example of how much the Liberal Party have changed under this Leader of the Opposition, it is the fact that they now cannot bring themselves to allow a farmer to choose who they want to sell to. If there were ever an example of how the Liberal Party of today is fundamentally different to what it was throughout its history and to what it was even three years ago, this is it. How many of the Liberal Party backbench intended to join the DLP? How many members of the Liberal Party backbench thought they were going to end up with the economics of Bob Santamaria when it came to what you are allowed to export? But that is the decision that is now before this parliament. If you will not even give the basic threshold level of allowing a business to choose who they will sell their products to, then every member of the Liberal Party needs to know they are in a fundamentally different party under this Leader of the Opposition to the one they ever joined.