BEFITTING the Pastoralists and Graziers Association¹s 100th anniversary this year, its annual conven

15 Feb, 2007 07:00 PM
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Treasurer Peter Costello will be a keynote speaker and will open the convention at the Duxton Hotel in Perth on Thursday, February 22.

Mr Costello, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, is a key factor in the success enjoyed by the Coalition Government in the past decade.

From tax reform to corporation law reform, to giving the Reserve Bank independent management of interest rates, Mr Costello has been a reforming Treasurer who has looked to the future needs of the Australian economy in an age of globalisation.

PGA president Sandy McTaggart said the Treasurer was expected to address a range of rural issues, including fall-out from the AWB Oil-For-Food (OFF) scandal and its implications for the WA wheat industry.

In another coup, Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock has also agreed to address the Convention and will be presenting immediately after morning tea.

Mr Ruddock will, in particular, outline the recent proposed changes to the Native Title Act that is before parliament.

This will be of considerable interest to both pastoralists and mining industry members attending and should generate considerable dialogue.

Other key speakers at the conference will focus on national wheat marketing.

Caroline Overington, a two-time Walkley award winning journalist and author of the book Kickback, which deals with the AWB scandal, will provide updates and implications of the wheat export scandal.

Ms Overington broke the story of the OFF scandal while working in New York and has followed it closely ever since.

Paul Kerin, Professorial Fellow of Business Strategy with the Melbourne Business School, has been invited back to update his views and predictions since he addressed the 2006 PGA conference.

Mr Kerin, a noted media commentator, has been a keen watcher of the way the politics of agriculture has perverted its economic and regulatory structures.

His keynote speech at the 2006 Convention was a highlight of the program, and in a year dominated by wheat marketing, Mr Kerin has agreed to return an provide his view of the current state of play.

WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance will close the morning session and is expected to face questions on animal welfare, proposed legislation and his government¹s moratorium on GM crops.

Post-lunch speakers will focus on the economic outlook for agriculture with Peter Jacobs, head of Agribusiness for ANZ Rural Banking in W,A and Peter Linford, Austrade¹s Senior Commissioner in the Middle East, discussing challenges and opportunities.

Mr Jacobs is Austrade¹s Senior Trade Commissioner for the Middle East and Connsul General to Dubai.

With livestock exports facing ongoing challenges within Australia and abroad, Mr Linford will give an on-the-ground perspective of the industry in the Middle East.

Former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, president of the Bennelong Society and a Senior Consultant with ACIL Tasman, Dr Gary Johns, will move onto the Native Title debate with his ideas on making Aboriginal land rights work.

PGA committee chairmen Leon Bradley, grain, Tim D¹Arcy, livestock, Digby Stretch, wool, Ruth Webb-Smith, pastoral, and Gary Hyde, economics and farm business, will complete the business session with a forum on key rural issues.

To cap proceedings, Government House Ballroom will be the venue for a prestigious PGA centenary dinner in the evening, featuring the announcement of the winner of the Skywest Rural Achiever of the Year award.

Mr McTaggart said the Convention and dinner would launch a major calendar of centenary functions and events across the State during the year.

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