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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 10266

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (15:51): Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I am happy to assist, but I note that we are, I think—and I seek your guidance—only allotted till 4.15 pm for the consideration in committee, and any delay caused by the lack of officials really causes some great consternation given that we only have 25 minutes here. So I also will be brief. With regard to this amendment and the wheat advisory body, I would ask the minister about the make-up of the body, the process by which the body will be appointed and the date by which that advice is due to come back to government, because I do not have much confidence in the government getting even this right.

We have seen through the process of the legislation that we have before us that on the code development committee, which was the development committee for the voluntary code, the owners and users of the ports had seven positions while the producers only had two. It was completely inappropriately weighted in my view. The voluntary code simply will not work. I know we are coming to the mandatory code issue later, but I will take the opportunity now as I am sure we will run out of time before we get to the voluntary code. To have the whole premise of the WEA being disbanded and that, at the end of the day, it would be overseen by a voluntary code is simply stupid and shows that the government does not understand the operation of the industry and how this is all working.

The Greens are also moving some amendments, and I agree they are a slight improvement on the dog's breakfast piece of legislation we have in front of us. The Greens signed up with the coalition to a lengthy dissenting report when this legislation came to the committee. That dissenting report had a very comprehensive set of recommendations that went with it. We were tremendously pleased on this side when we saw that the Greens were going to do that, but now we see the Greens rolling over to do the bidding of their government partners, the Labor Party, on the back of a couple of small amendments. If the Greens had truly believed and insisted on those recommendations that they had signed up to in the dissenting report, they would have voted with the coalition against this legislation so we could have done it properly. It is extremely disappointing to see that.

We will have the ACCC overseeing this, and I simply do not have the confidence that the ACCC will be able to oversee this in an appropriate manner. The government has made a complete mess of this. There was a simple way forward to reconfigure the WEA to be able to do all those industry-good functions—

Senator Ludwig: Bring back WEA!

Senator NASH: Methinks thou dost protest a bit too much, Minister Ludwig. You just do not understand this. We have here a government that is quite happy to listen to the large bulk handlers and the big end of town and not listen for one moment to those producers, those people in the industry, who actually understand the ramifications of this. That is simply unacceptable and reprehensible. The government is going with the big end of town. A Labor government is doing this when we have producers out there who in no way, shape or form made any kind of abrogation about getting out their message that they know these industry-good functions need to be performed. The government simply has not listened. So we have a government that has absolutely pandered to the big end of town and the Greens that have rolled over to support that government, and the people who are going to lose out are those hardworking grain producers out in our rural communities who deserve much better than this.