O¹CONNOR MHR Wilson Tuckey has called on the Federal Government to establish an independent, forensi

15 Nov, 2006 08:45 PM

But Mr Tuckey¹s desire to attack AWB is not his only solution to the problems he says are inherent in Australia¹s wheat export marketing system.

He promotes changes to four sections of the Wheat Marketing Act, the existing legislation that gives AWB control over the single desk.

To achieve this victory, Mr Tuckey has proposed a Private Members Bill that would strip AWB of its power of veto and transfer it to the Wheat Export Authority (WEA).

If the battle plan sounds familiar, it would be safe to assume Mr Tuckey¹s philosophy is shared by wheat war allies and is one of the forces behind the push by national farm lobby groups to dismantle AWB¹s power over wheat exports.

³Under my private members bill the WEA can still make judgements in its issuance of licences to others, but I would imagine they¹d feel bound to give one to, say CBH, if they were offering $50/t more for wheat in this bad season, than was AWB,² Mr Tuckey said.

He said the reason behind the grievance speech was to draw Parliament¹s and the relevant ministers¹ attention to allegations addressed at him.

Mr Tuckey was also keen to clarify that he was not the single desk¹s worst enemy.

³I did not oppose the granting of a legislated monopoly over wheat exporters in 1998 and subsequently, to win public support,² he said.

³My opposition is to a totally unsupervised corporate activity, which has power over its regulator.²

Annoyed by suggestions that his private members bill had been confused with an agenda to destroy the single desk, Mr Tuckey had another simple solution.

³Misrepresentations claiming that my requirement to transfer the single desk powers from AWBL to the WEA was a proposal to destroy the single desk simply underline the Joseph Goebbels principal,² Mr Tuckey said. ³If you tell a lie often enough it will become the truth.

³I stand firm on my private members bill which simply removes AWBI¹s exemption from the wheat export licensing scheme and the Trade Practices Act, plus removes the two clauses which grant it a veto over the WEA which is supposed to monitor AWBL¹s performance.

³This move would create WEA as the single desk manager.

³AWBL could continue providing all the services it does at present however the WEA could monitor its physical pricing agreements and or demand suitable surety to ensure growers got paid as a condition of licence.

³I do not consider the present arrangements to offer either benefit to WA farmers, who are virtually forced to gift their wheat to AWBI.

³I can find no guarantee in the legislation that prevents AWBI reducing the Estimated Pool Returns to $1 to save its own corporate hide.²

Mr Tuckey acknowledged the difficulty of trying to deliver his form of the truth to growers who had a longstanding relationship with AWB and had subsequently established an ideology of the single desk.

³Explaining to growers that AWBL is an entirely different animal to the previous statutory Australian Wheat Board has been very difficult,² he said.

³It would be tragic for them to learn this as a result of the financial collapse of AWBL.

³I am not impressed by anything AWBL has done that warrants its retention of the export monopoly.

³I further believe that were matters unchanged it would revert to its past practices.

³After years of paying the highest dividends to its shareholders, I want to know why the company needed a virtual strike by wheatgrowers to cause AWBL to commence reducing staff and accepting some of the financial pain arising from seasonal or cyclical downturns."



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