PASTORALISTS and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley has hit out at Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran’s decision to donate $250,000 to finance the Wheat Export Marketing Alliance (WEMA) fighting fund.
The money will be used by WEMA in its bid to set up a new grower-owned and controlled single desk company to manage sale of the nation’s wheat export crop from next year.
Mr Bradley said he was disappointed to read that Mr McGauran had pledged tax payer’s money to help fund WEMA’s cause, but he was not surprised by the contribution.
He said WEMA should not have received the large donation and urged growers to think twice before tipping their money into WEMA’s fighting fund.
“This is merely what is to be expected from the current crony system that has been allowed to dominate the wheat industry,” Mr Bradley said.
“It is, however, an admission from WEMA that they cannot raise the funds from growers voluntarily and they have to extract money from taxpayers via their National Party protectors in government.
“This is the WEMA method of doing business.
“They want to inflict a plan on growers that we know cannot work so they seek government funding and make the system compulsory.
“Kickbacks have a long association with single desk systems, and it seems we are yet to see the end of them.”
O’Connor MLA Wilson Tuckey also said the money should not have been paid and questioned why growers wouldn’t fund the scheme if they really wanted it.
WEMA has been urging growers to chip in to the fund to help pay for administration costs associated with establishing the new entity, including independent chairman Graham Blight’s reported $10,000 monthly salary.
Growers have also been sent letters from WEMA, which is made up of the state-based farming organisations and the Wheat Growers Association, asking them to make voluntary financial contributions held in trust by Kott Gunning lawyers.
WEMA will also use the money to engage professionals in areas such as corporate planning, legal advice, financial modelling and marketing business systems.