VFF silent on

24 Apr, 2002 10:00 PM
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By WILL RAYNER

AFTER a high profile and much anticipated build-up, the Victorian Farmers Federation has remained silent on proposed changes to the single desk for wheat exports at the Grains Council of Australia annual conference in Melbourne last week.

VFF passed a resolution at its state conference last month to try and change the structure of the single desk ‹ or more specifically, change when the single desk powers came into play.

But it has chosen to wait and explore the implications of its proposal further before taking the resolution to a vote on the Grains Council of Australia executive.

The proposed changes have long gained the support of many grain bulk handling and storage companies who, under the proposal, would have greater access to vested grains on the domestic market.

That open support has seen much back room talk about the motives behind VFF's proposal ‹ considering it is a major GrainCorp shareholder.

But Grain Council of Australia president Keith Perret, said the issue needed to be looked at regardless of the motives behind the VFF vote.

"VFF and their affairs is their business," Mr Perrett said.

"But I would suggest that that resolution has come from their membership, so it shouldn't be viewed as something that could be controlled by one organisation or another.

"It (the change) has been flagged, and it is something that Grains Council will look at.

"However, yes, there has certainly been the perception that it's an issue that could have been pushed by GrainCorp.

"A lot of bulk handlers are saying a similar thing ‹ that there is some inequities in the system with the single desk starting at the first point of delivery. That is why we need to go through the issue and need to look at it objectively."

But Mr Perrett has warned against a knee-jerk reaction to the proposal and comments made in the media.

"But as time moves on, circumstances change and viewpoints change," he said.

"It is now time to revisit the reasons for putting the current arrangements in place and assess whether they will enable the industry to achieve what is needed well into the future."

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