Burke stands firm on wheat

30 Jan, 2008 09:00 PM
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NEW Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has reaffirmed Labor’s pre-election promise to implement a more competitive system for bulk wheat exports for next harvest.

Mr Burke visited several farms in WA last week for meetings with representatives from WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA).

PGA executive committee member Gary McGill’s farm was a venue where the issuing of bulk export permits for the 2007-08 harvest, the future of industry services and the role of the Wheat Industry Expert Group, were discussed. Genetically modified crops and drought policy were also covered at length.

Mr Burke was also lobbied by key members of the WAFarmers executive on the farm of Mortlock Zone president Maitland Davey at Konnongor-ring.

The new wheat marketing arrangements were top of the agenda while drought funding and climate change were also discussed.

Despite some intense lobbying from WAFarmers officials, including grains council president Derek Clauson, Mr Burke said he had no plans to waiver from the ALP’s policy position, as set out before the federal election.

In an exclusive interview with Farm Weekly, the minister confirmed he would not deviate one millimetre from the Labor Party’s pre lection promise to change the system for bulk wheat exports.

His latest pledge comes despite serious concerns from single desk supporters and a surprise recommendation from ALP colleague and State Agriculture Minister Kim Chance on the eve of Mr Burke’s trip to WA.

Mr Chance recommended a continuation of the current marketing arrangements for next harvest with AWB acting as the national pool manager.

But Mr Burke said there would be no compromise on the ALP’s position, regardless of his colleague’s view.

“When you go to an election and you say this is what we will do if we win the election, you have got to do it,” Mr Burke said.

“If anyone wants to try and tempt me to break a promise, it is not going to happen.

“You have got to keep your word.

“We said we would do it and we will.”

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