EAST PINGELLY farmer and former WAFarmers grains council president Ray Marshall has celebrated a unique anniversary in typical determined style.
“It is one year since the WAFarmers board issued me with the ultimatum — resign or else,” Mr Marshall said last week.
“History will record that I tendered my resignation as WAFarmers grains council president but we know there was probably a lot more to it than that.”
Mr Marshall said he viewed the one year anniversary of his dumping from the grains council as a celebration of independence and looked back on the past 12 months with a certain amount of pride.
Mr Marshall’s resignation ultimatum was issued by the board of WAFarmers in response to a letter he signed jointly with the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers president Leon Bradley.
The letter in question, of which Mr Marshall still has the original copy, was addressed to Prime Minister John Howard, urging him to remove the single desk and the power of veto over bulk wheat exports from AWB and hand it to the Wheat Export Authority (WEA).
Mr Bradley said the letter, which illustrated a union between two staunch rivals on wheat marketing, had helped forge a meeting between PGA and Mr Howard’s chief advisor.
The meeting came during a PGA grains delegation’s trip to Canberra to lobby federal politicians with their views on wheat marketing.
Mr Marshall’s plea came at a critical time in the industry that coincided with pre-harvest decision making and Cole Inquiry into AWB’s breach of the United Nations Oil for Food Program.
The four paragraph letter which made national headlines at the time outlined the reasons for Mr Marshall’s request.
It consisted of four dot points; the compromised security and integrity of pool participant’s equity in the national pools, loss of trust by growers in the AWB, loss of AWB credibility, and likelihood of adverse recommendations as a result of the Cole Inquiry.
Mr Marshall celebrated his milestone last week by distributing an e-mail to the media and other sections of the grains industry, outlining the reasons for his actions.
He said time and distance had enabled him to reflect on those events and he had now become far more comfortable with his decision to sign the letter.
“The decision to sign this letter was my decision, and mine alone, balanced by the facts of the Cole Inquiry and having read the AWB Service Agreement some two-three weeks before,” he said.
“It became apparent when reading this usually secret document, that this agreement passed all the risk to the pool participants.
“Having seen the fallout from the then incomplete Cole inquiry, I was not prepared to have growers exposed to any risk whatsoever by being forced to sell into the 2006-07 pool.
“I knew that the outcome from this stance would create problems within WAFarmers because it was contrary to the single desk and compulsory acquisition principles entrenched in the organisation’s ideology.
“But as a leader I had to make a choice, either choose between protecting growers’ financial interest and security in the pools, or upholding the ideology of the single desk.
“History will show I chose the former.”