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Demerger dead, bickering continues.



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Media Release SENATOR KERRY O’BRIEN SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

DEMERGER DEAD, BICKERING CONTINUES

The announcement by AWB Limited that it will not spin off its international arm has triggered a fresh round of Coalition bickering, Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Kerry O’Brien said today.

Senator O’Brien said the uncertainty facing Australia’s wheat growers would continue if the Coalition was re-elected later in the year.

“Today we witness a new round of attacks between the National and Liberal parties over the future of wheat export marketing.

“Wilson Tuckey has attacked AWB and said that wheat growers have little chance of setting up a grower controlled company.

“At the same time, Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran welcomed AWB’s announcement to form a new company to take over the single desk.

“One thing is certain. If re-elected, the Coalition in-fighting will continue.”

Senator O’Brien said the Howard Government’s recent changes to the Wheat Marketing Act allowed the uncertainty to flourish.

“The new wheat marketing laws are a product of the Prime Minister at his sneaky best.

“The changes give free-marketeers hope there will be deregulation by 2008, leaving others to think the single desk will remain in growers’ hands.

“Meanwhile, the nation’s hard working wheat growers are none-the-wiser about the future of their industry,” Senator O’Brien said.

Senator O’Brien said Labor is prepared to work with wheat growers in their efforts to establish a new company but acknowledged they faced an ‘Everest-like’ challenge.

“The government set the industry an almost impossible task.

“They gave growers eight months to form a new entity knowing they had no financial backing or asset base.

“The government stands condemned for thrusting this overwhelming burden onto the industry in an election year and in the midst of Australia’s worst ever drought,” Senator O'Brien said.

ENDS. 27 July 2007

Contact: Senator Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 Martin Breen 0407 435 624