The Australian Greens are proposing amendments to break the ongoing political deadlock surrounding reforms to Australia’s wheat industry.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on agriculture says the amendments to the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill 2012 seek to deliver the best outcomes for growers across the country.
“The wheat export industry is at different stages in respect to deregulation around the country and the Greens are not able to support the Bill as it stands.
“While some wheat farmers in Western Australia support the full deregulation of the industry, other wheat growers, particularly in the Eastern states, believe that some oversight is still necessary.
“Our amendments maintain some important checks and balances to ensure a level playing field for all wheat growers.
“The Greens supported the initial move towards deregulation of the industry in 2008 but have always been conscious that as we move out from under the shadow of the single desk monopoly, a degree of regulation would be necessary to ensure a level playing field for our wheat growers.
“The proposed takeover of Graincorp is an example of why some level of regulation is needed in the wheat market. There is an ongoing risk of monopolies being established to the detriment of growers. Our amendments ensure that protections, such as the availably and transparency of information, are secured for within the legislation.
“I have participated in Senate Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Committee inquiries into wheat, and heard loud and clear that there are a range of issues that still need to be resolved before we can expect to see a mature industry capable of self-regulation. The Government Bill is pushing as quickly as possible to full deregulation, without regard to the issues that still need to be addressed.
“Our amendments place conditions on the abolition of the Wheat Export Authority, firstly that the Government establishes a new body by 1 July 2013 to provide quality assurance and information to growers in areas such as wheat stocks and port capacity. The specific details of such an organisation, such as funding and operation, needs to be determined through full and proper consultation with industry.
“Our amendments also seek to ensure the code of conduct that is currently being negotiated by industry participants, is mandatory and enforceable rather than the voluntary code that the Government proposes.
“These amendments provide important security and certainty for growers into the future, moving us a step closer to a mature industry” Senator Siewert concluded.