Frustration at desk supporters

30 Apr, 2008 01:33 PM

MEMBERS of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee have expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of foresight displayed by single desk supporters.

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle is chairman of the committee which conducted an inquiry into the draft new wheat marketing legislation Bill last month.

The committee gathered submissions and interviewed grain industry groups from across Australia, including bulk handlers and farm lobby groups, hearing their suggestions on how the legislation can be improved.

The exercise was done in view of making last minute changes to the legislation.

Sen Sterle said these groups had completely missed the point of the consultation exercise and wasted valuable opportunities to put forward positive suggestions for amendments.

He was particularly critical of WAFarmers and the Wheat Export Marketing Alliance (WEMA).

He said the committee wanted to specifically hear suggestions on how the legislation could improve and create fairer access to port facilities, regional grain storage facilities and market information for all stakeholders in the supply chain.

South Australian Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher said she was concerned that some farmers were unaware there was an opportunity to make submissions to improve the proposed wheat reforms.

Although the report has been submitted to the Senate and is expected to be debated when Parliament resumes on May 13, growers and industry groups can still make suggestions on how to improve the legislation.

Senator Fisher said she was approached by several farmers who attended last week’s hearing in Canberra and protested against the Bill, asking for it to be thrown out.

She said that despite being part of a rowdy contingent that interjected over speakers and caused disruption several times during the inquiry, the growers were unaware they could make suggestions to amend the Bill and make it more workable for farmers.


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