WGA maintains rage on AWB

28 Apr, 2004 10:00 PM
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WHEAT Growers Association (WGA) representatives have submitted 21 recommendations to the 2004 Wheat Marketing Review into AWB Ltd, in the hope this year's inquiry will yield more effective results.

The WGA submissions to the panel were initiated at its annual general meeting earlier this month, when the association discussed continuing concerns over AWBL.

The independent review panel inquiry into AWBL follows the Senate inquiry conducted in 2003.

The Senate inquiry identified problems with service costs and transparency within AWBL, however many graingrowers were frustrated at the lack of response from Federal Agricultural Minister Warren Truss.

High on the list of WGA submissions was the preservation of Australia's single desk market within AWBL, and a need for further transparency in the company, WGA president Bob Iffla said.

Mr Iffla said AWB had shown signs of being more transparent but needed to go a lot further.

"These problems have been around for quite a long time," he said.

But it still appeared AWBL favoured the investor over the grower.

"The biggest priority of all is returning more dollars back through the national pools to growers," Mr Iffla said.

He said the same concerns had been raised by the WGA at the Senate inquiry last year.

"We're hoping this review will further identify the problems, and AWB will start to fix their side of the problem," Mr Iffla said.

As part of the WGA submission, Mr Iffla said AWBL could improve grower income by load averaging, to ensure the grower received the full value of the pooled wheat delivered.

He said grower load averaging would also encourage wheatgrowers to produce a product of high standards.

The benefits from cost and freight marketing should also be returned to the pool and delivered to growers, Mr Iffla said.

Mr Iffla called on the panel to take independent advice on the Wheat Industry Benchmark (WIB) and the Out Performance Incentive (OPI).

He said the WIB and OPI were questionable as AWBL performance measures and their benefits to the company came at the expense of the National Pool.

The WGA had also asked for AWBL to deliver accurate and concise documentation for wheat deliveries and pool entitlements by December 31.

According to the WGA, AWBL should incur a $5.6 million non-performance penalty to partly offset costs incurred to reconcile deficient AWBL documentation, if the deadline is not met.

Mr Iffla felt the WGA had received a fair hearing from the review panel and it was time to wait and see on the outcomes.

The independent review panel's recommendations are expected to be released in September.

WGA's submission in full can be viewed at on the Internet at www.wheatgrowers.com.au or www.2004.wheatreview.gov.au

pThe review panel consists of Alice Williams (director of consultancy group Strategic Analytics), Martine Pop (WA Meat Industry Authority chair), and Barry Watts (former member of Prime Minister's Supermarket to Asia Council).

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