FORMER WAFarmers Grains Council president Ray Marshall has come out in defence of his former council

24 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM

The controversial letter recommended to Prime Minis-ter John Howard that WA wheatgro-wers wanted AWB stripped of its power of

veto on bulk wheat exports for last season.

Mr Marshall is now defending Mrs Newman, who is also in hot water for an alleged breach of protocol.

Mr Marshall believes that he and Mrs Newman are being harshly treated because they are the only grassroots growers to have read the confidential services agreement that sets out the fundamental day-to-day operations between AWB Limited and AWB International for servicing the national wheat pool.

The services agreement has been criticised by farm lobby groups over its controversial break fee, which would see AWBL compensated up to $30 million for the loss of the single desk.

Mr Marshall believes the concerns raised by Mrs Newman over the services agreement were justified, but have caused her to become an innocent target.

³How our WA representatives agreed to the terms of this contract in the first place goes beyond my comprehension,² Mr Marshall said.

³AWB is taking no risk whatsoever while wheatgrowers wear it all.²

Mr Marshall said WAFarmers appeared more intent on killing off its own people and defending AWB rather than promoting democratic behaviour.

³The only thing Julie did was ensure growers took proper caution prior to delivering their wheat at harvest, that¹s all,² he said.

³Growers showed with their decisions on who they delivered their wheat to this season and with so much of it being warehoused, that they were reluctant to use AWB and wanted more choice.

³Julie and I have given over a decade of service to the protection of wheatgrowers on that council and this is how they treat us.

³We give our best to rigorously defend wheatgrowers and don¹t even get a Christmas card in return.²

Mr Marshall said he believed that WAFarmers Grains Council was on a fast track to becoming an irrelevant organisation because it refused to properly acknowledge deregulation of wheat marketing.

He said this prevailing attitude and lack of objectivity was causing the council to become ill formed and therefore biased in its decision-making.

³There are conflicts of interests and different agendas flying all over the place,² Mr Marshall said.

³There are also a lot of council members wearing many different hats which makes it extremely difficult to get a decision made in that type of environment.²

Mr Marshall also criticised WAFarmers president Trevor De Landgrafft, alleging Mr De Landgrafft ‹ not Mrs Newman ‹ had breached the organisation¹s communications protocols.

³One day Trevor will have to admit that (anti-AWB supporters) Leon Bradley and Wilson Tuckey were right and he was wrong,² Mr Marshall said.

³At a time when the industry needs leadership more than ever here we are fighting among ourselves and the whole thing is a shambles.²

Mr Marshall blamed much of the fracturing on the rigorous defence of AWB, claiming that wheh he was president, he had often received phone calls from company directors, includingformer AWB managing director Andrew Lindberg, reacting angrily to any criticism of AWB or the single desk.

³Any time someone spoke out against the single desk or AWB or expressed a difference of opinion, they came down on us like a tonne of bricks,² Mr Marshall said.

³Grains Council is meant to be an apolitical organisation, but it¹s anything but that, and if anything it is just an extension of the AWB roundtable.

³There¹s too much interference.²

A WAFarmers spokesperson refused to comment on the subject, saying it was an internal matter and a dead issue.

It is understood a board meeting was scheduled for last Friday to discuss the matter, but was adjourned to Monday and at the time of Farm Weekly going to print no announcement had been made on Mrs Newman¹s fate.

Mrs Newman said if she did not hear anything from the board she would attend the next Grains Council meeting at the end of this month.

Regardless of the outcome, Mrs Newman said she would not renew her membership next year amid concerns at the organisation¹s lack of democracy.

³I do not want to be part of an organisation that deals with the truth by silencing the voice and attacking the messenger,² she said.



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