PGA to maintain AWB rage

31 May, 2007 07:00 PM
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PASTORALISTS and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley has promised to continue waging his long running battle against AWB, in the wake of last week¹s government decision to extend the status quo on wheat export marketing.

Mr Bradley said many wheat growers would be dismayed by the Federal Government¹s decision to allow AWB to continue managing the nation¹s wheat crop this harvest.

He said he was bitterly disappointed by the result, describing it as a non-decision.

But despite his frustration, Mr Bradley said his fight for deregulation of the Australian wheat export industry was far from over.

Mr Bradley said he would not reveal exactly what his future plans were but pro-mised to keep a few aces up his sleeve, and some of his gunpowder dry.

³This decision will force growers to supply their 2007-08 harvest to the discredited AWB,² Mr Bradley said.

³The circumstances called for government reform but instead they have opted for the status quo.

³It begs the question: what crime can AWB not commit, and what level of underperformance will finally jar John Howard and his government into relieving Australian wheat growers of the obligation to surrender their wheat to this company?²

Mr Bradley said the Government¹s expectation that farmers would surrender their wheat to AWB this harvest without question, would not be met.

His warning comes on the back of last season¹s wheat marketing debacle where a large percentage of WA growers warehoused their wheat while waiting for the dust to settle on the Cole inquiry and potential liabilities facing growers over AWB¹s involvement in the Iraqi bribes scandal.

While the costs associated with some of those liabilities have been cleared, including a multi-million dollar tax claim against AWB by the Australian Taxation Office, many of the leg-al challenges fa-cing AWB have yet to be resolved.

While AWB says it will defend those legal challenges vigorously, including up to four class actions in Australia and the US, Mr Bradley remained remain sceptical of the possible implications those legal costs will have on future pool management.

³Growers are aware the government¹s decision is an invitation for AWB to wash its accumulated losses and contingent liabilities through the 2007-08 pool, thereby cheating farmer of hundreds of millions of dollars,² Mr Bradley said.

³Even more distressing is the government¹s assignment of the future of the wheat industry to those who designed, defended, and collaborated in preserving the current disastrous wheat marketing arrangements.

³It is remarkable that AWB¹s influence on the Government is so ubiquitous that it is still able to control the agenda.

³We at the PGA will leave no stone unturned in our attempts to preserve the livelihood of growers and institute arrangement to allow them to maximise their own revenues.²

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