More GCA staff to handle reform

27 Oct, 2004 10:00 PM
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THE Wheat Marketing review has begun to create more bureaucracy in the grains industry with Grains Council of Australia (GCA) announcing it would increase staff in response to the report.

Released on October 15, the public report looked at AWBI International's performance as wheat export single desk manager, operation of consent arrangements and the Wheat Export Authority's performance on monitoring AWBI.

WEA's control of non-AWBI wheat exports also came under scrutiny from the review panel.

While the report said there had been a marked improvement in WEA's relationship management over time, it also said WEA had to continually develop and maintain effective key working relationships beyond the GCA and AWBI.

The report said while the WEA Consultative Group comprised WEA, AWBI, GCA and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), it had not been effective enough to help resolve some difficult or controversial issues.

GCA president Keith Perrett said the GCA was employing more staff to help remedy this situation.

"The report noted that GCA has not been as effective as it could have been in pursing outcomes from the activities of the WEA, a criticism we are already taking steps to address with additional staff resources to the GCA team," he said.

GCA chief operating officer David Ginns said a new policy officer joined the GCA team on Monday, which would increase its capacity to deal with the fallout from the 2004 review.

The extra staff would also help with the extra activities GCA had taken on as part of the Single Vision industry strategy.

"What the review will do, once the majority of the appropriate recommendations have been implemented, is improve a system already rewarding producers better than any other marketing system in competing countries," he said.

"Some of the recommendations will, if fully adopted, add an additional layer of complexity and some cost, and these are issues we have already started to discuss with AWB and will be discussing with the minister soon.

"We see the implementation of the appropriate recommendations being completed by around the time of the AWB annual general meetings next year."

The GCA also has some concerns about recommendations in the report which call for longer terms for all export consents for bags and containers.

The report says a longer consent system would provide traders with more certainty than under current arrangements and provide opportunities for growers to increase returns.

Volumes exported by non-AWBI exporters under consent from WEA are small but some growers have benefited through higher prices offered by traders, the report said.

The panel recommended longer consent times of 12 months for non-niche markets with specified tonnage limits, and 24-month consents for niche markets with no tonnage limits.

This system could be trialled for three years with markets and tonnage limits on non-niche markets determined by WEA in consultation with AWBI and other exporters.

"With regard to the niche market question, we believe a clear definition needs to be made of what a niche market is, and also that the concessions should be for new niche markets to ensure we are not having a situation where Australian grain is being sold in competition to Australian grain," Mr Ginns said.

Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said the government would develop its response to the Wheat Marketing Review Panel's recommendations during the next couple of months.

The panel provided two separate reports one: for Mr Truss, which contained confidential information and was not made public; and the grower report based on the panel's conclusions and recommendations.

Growers should have received the public report with the latest issue of the Grains Research and Development Commission's publication Ground Cover.

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