Ironbar serves up attack on wheat growers group

29 Jun, 2006 07:00 PM
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O'CONNOR MHR Wilson Tuckey has given AWB another serve of his razor-sharp wheat industry rhetoric.

Mr Tuckey's continued calls for AWB to surrender its power of veto was this week combined with an attack on the wheat exporter's ability to maintain profits.

He questioned how a profit could be made with the poor season outlook for most graingrowing regions, which could cause lower than expected returns for the national pool.

Mr Tuckey's comments were sparked by media photographs of unsold stockpiles of fertiliser from CSBP.

"These pictures are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the threat to the cash flow and viability of the rural service industry arising from the current lack of rainfall in WA," Mr Tuckey said.

"While we hope and pray for late rains it is clear grain productivity is already affected.

"AWB however has their profit guaranteed whatever the level of wheat production.

"AWB Ltd has an agreed first call of $65 million on the value of wheat delivered to its pooling monopoly plus bonuses at levels it has set and related only to the prices, not volume of wheat sold.

"This monopoly charge contributed a 74pc increase to $19m of AWB Ltd's recent profit announcement of $46m."

Mr Tuckey said AWB was the only agribusiness in the world that was guaranteed a profit in a drought.

"If only $65m worth of wheat went into the pool this year then AWB would get the lot and would probably start raking on last season's harvest to meet their bonus payments," he said.

Mr Tuckey was also critical of WAFarmers and Bob Iffla's Wheat Growers Association (WGA) for their support of Australia's wheat export marketer.

"WAFarmers and WGA have both argued for contestability for nearly three years without success, so why keep flogging a dead horse," he said.

"It is irresponsible of WGA and WAFarmers to say that all AWB needs is a culture change or to offer support for organisations that seek to limit AWB's ability to hive off profits from the grain pool."

Mr Tuckey said Mr Iffla should be embarrassed about his organisation.

"WGA should fold because they have failed to shift AWB Ltd. an inch since the started and all they have really done is to get a few speeches saying there will be no change," he said.

Pastoralists and Graziers Asoociation Western Graingrowers vice president Rick Wilson supported Mr Tuckey's views.

Mr Wilson said given the deteriorating season across the country and in particular WA and Victoria, growers on WA's south coast and Esperance could theoretically carry the AWB's $65m payment on their own.

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