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Anderson announces support for new wheatgrower shareholdings



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Media Release

ANDERSON ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR NEW WHEATGROWER SHAREHOLDINGS

Primary Industries and Energy Minister John Anderson today announced support for the development of a mechanism to encourage new growers to purchase shares in the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) after privatisation occurs.

Mr Anderson said the arrangements will act as an encouragement for new wheatgrowers to purchase B-class (equity) shares, and invest in one of Australia’s largest companies.

Mr Anderson said his support for the new grower incentive proposal follows a series of ongoing discussions with senior WA National Party representatives who have expressed concern that although grower control will clearly not be lost if wheatgrowers sell their shares to outside interests, the sense and feeling of grower ownership and empowerment might be diminished over time.

“To directly encourage new wheatgrowers to purchase shares in lieu of dividends, or indeed to purchase shares with a proportion of their crop returns, is likely to attract ongoing grower support and loyalty for the AWB,” said Mr Anderson.

“As long as this arrangement is non-compulsory, and would not discount the commerciality of the AWB in any way, I am prepared to give it my support” said Mr Anderson.

“It will also give comfort for farmers who wish to retire their investment to do so in the knowledge that there is a facility for new wheatgrower investors coming in.

“Furthermore, it provides an easy opportunity for wheatgrowers to maintain access to shares in proportion to their total production.

Mr Anderson said the proposal will not require legislative change, but could be readily incorporated into the new company’s operations following the move to a grower controlled commercial enterprise.

Mr Anderson said he will ask the Grains Council of Australia and the AWB to investigate the matter further, and develop the arrangements to allow the facility to be in place at the time of listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1999/2000.

Minister for Primary Industries and Energy

DPIE98/69A 16 June 1998

Media contact: _ Robert Haynes 026 277 7520/0419 493 511

Parliament House. Canberra ACT 2600 Tel: (06) 277 7520 Fax: (06) 273 4120