11 October 2012
Western Australian wheat growers and their co-operative stand to lose at least $4 million a year if Federal Parliament rejects legislation to deregulate the export wheat market, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said today.
Mr Gray, whose electorate includes the farmers’ export grain loader, CBH, at Kwinana, said he found it “beyond belief” that conservative MPs, who claimed to represent the interests of WA grain growers, were prepared to betray them and not support the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill.
The legislation is the final step in deregulating the export market and dismantling Wheat Export Australia. The deregulation process began under the Howard Government.
Mr Gray said next month, the WA grains harvest would begin. Wheat farmers deserved to know now the conditions under which they would sell their crops. They were harvesting a smaller crop and facing pinched markets and a high Australian dollar.
He told Parliament: “I plead: This is an important matter. There is time before this vote is taken for people to change their views and consider the central, thoughtful proposition that farmers, before they take their crop off, should understand the conditions under which their crop is to be marketed.
“At a time of pinched markets and difficult circumstances for our farmers because of increased costs and the difficult situation with the high Australian dollar, why would you want to make it harder for our principal export market industry? Why make it harder?
“How can members opposite turn a blind eye to the numerous public appeals of CBH, the WA Farmers Federation, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association – groups which represent the majority of WA farmers – and even the Western Australian Liberal Premier?
“The CBH terminal in Kwinana stands to lose up to $1 million a year because of the administrative, regulatory burden on all farmers.
“In addition to that, individual wheat growers in Western Australia stand to lose a further $3 million in revenue for their own farm businesses.”
Mr Gray told the House of Representatives that WA was the biggest export wheat state in Australia.
“This is Western Australia's biggest agricultural industry. It is worth around $3.5 billion a year.
“It is one of the great pillars of the Western Australian economy, and it is beyond belief that some members on the other side, who claim to represent the interests of WA wheat growers, are prepared to betray them and sell them short for purely political reasons.
“It is beyond belief that they are prepared to reject this Bill and cost wheat growers in Western Australia millions of dollars in lost revenue and continue to add to the administrative, regulatory red-tape burden of the CBH operation in Kwinana and all farmers in West Australia.
“It is beyond belief that the personal appeal of 10 senior Liberal Party members in Western Australia, who, on 4 October, wrote to all Liberal MPs and senators, will have the door slammed in their faces.”
Mr Gray tabled the letter signed by the 10 Liberal Party members.
|John Arthur - 0408 991 261||www.smos.gov.au|