GPA chairman Pete Mailler said his group had the same position it always had.THE industry impasse in terms of a united position on the federal government’s wheat marketing bill appears as deep as ever, with stakeholders reaffirming their positions in increasingly strongly worded statements.
Grower group Grain Producers Australia (GPA) said it could not support a bill that relied on a code of conduct that was yet to be developed.
GPA chairman Pete Mailler said his group had the same position it always had, and attacked ‘misleading’ statements which linked GPA’s position as push for a return to the single desk export system.
“We reject the false and misleading assertion that this opposition to the bill is linked in any way to single desk.”
He said GPA did not support the status quo, but rather a shakeup of Wheat Exports Australia (WEA).
“The Minister for Agriculture (Joe Ludwig) declared in parliament (this week) that WEA does not currently address these issues – and we agree, no one does effectively address these issues, but WEA could.”
He said he had no faith in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to adequately ensure fair port access, as slated under the government’s proposed bill.
But industry analyst John Williams said it was critical the bill was passed in order to attract sufficient capital investment into the freight network.
“We are starting to see welcome international investment in our freight systems.
“For instance, you look at South Australia and see what Glencore, through its acquisition of Viterra, could bring to the table, in terms of capital investment, international experience and better leadership to sort out problems with the SA ports.
“At present, port owners are reluctant to invest in new capacity while there was uncertainty surrounding the future of WEA and possible re-regulation.”
In terms of allocation of shipping slots and ensuring fair access, Dr Williams said this was largely a trade issue, and could be sorted out along those lines.
He said government intervention into a commercial situation was merely a hindrance.
“Nobody has ever explained how a government is to solve port-based logistics and shipping allocation problems, WEA and the ACCC have had the power to address port-based issues for years, yet problems remain prominent in some States despite government intervention.”
However, VFF grains group councillor Brett Hosking said he was unwilling to have the entire export supply chain self-regulated by the trade.
”If you give away the statutory powers that exist in WEA there will be no leverage on the trade and growers’ returns will ultimately decline.
“We need an accreditation or licensing scheme run by a statutory body with statutory powers at least until the industry codes can be tested.”
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