AWB hits back at 'Accenture Mark II'

27 Nov, 2002 10:00 PM

THE report may look different, it may have been prepared by different authors, and it may have been paid for by different groups - but for AWB last week's Kronus report added little to the debate over the performance of Australia's single desk wheat export arrangements.

"It's little more than an Accenture Mark II," AWB national pools manager Sarah Scales said.

"And, when you really cut through it all it adds up to little more than an attack on the single desk," she said.

The Kronus report - "a review of structural issues in the Australian grain market" - was prepared by Kronus Corporate on behalf of United Grower Holdings (which owns 51pc of grain bulk handler AusBulk) and Netco (a group of 10 large grain cooperatives based predominantly in the eastern states of Australia).

Among its major findings was a recommendation to allow deliveries to the national wheat pool on a FOB (or delivered to port) basis.

While acknowledging the report contained more detail than the Grain Growers Association commissioned Accenture report released last month, Ms Scales said its recommendations would undermine the value of the single desk - and ultimately cost growers money.

"It is an attack on the structure created by growers only two years ago," Ms Scales said.

"This clearly demonstrates the lack of understanding of the structure of the single desk by these bulk handlers."

At stake is the $38 million AWB says it gained this year through blending grain in the national pool to meet specific export requirements.

A FOB or port based export system would allow bulk handlers to extract some of this value for themselves.

"But they (bulk handlers) don't have a constitutional requirement to maximise returns to growers," Ms Scales said.

"At the moment the benefits of that blending revenue go straight into the national pool."

Ms Scales said if AWB lost the ability to blend grain to meet export requirements, the whole industry would suffer.

"Australia would revert to exporting a grain commodity - rather than exporting a specific product as it does now."

And that, she said, had helped AWB achieve the $14 to $32 a tonne premium the Wheat Export Authority said it had achieved this year on export markets.


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