WA groups block AWB reform

31 Jul, 2008 10:00 AM
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The war of words between the AWB and the WGA and WAFarmers reached new proportions last week with several stinging comments made in media interviews and by press release.

AWB issued several strongly worded statements attacking WAFarmers over its conflict of interest with rival grain marketer Emerald, as the public affairs campaign went into overdrive.

WAFarmers responded with equal veracity, claiming there was no conflict of interest with their relationship with Emerald via the operation of an exclusive wheat pool this year.

AWB also chose to highlight errant comments made by WAFarmers Grain Council president Derek Clauson while speaking during in an ABC radio interview on Friday.

AWB issued a media statement on Monday, highlighting the interview and, in particular ,where Mr Clauson had said that the "best commercial offer" would determine how many growers would deliver their wheat to in the new marketing environment – and not blind loyalty based on their A-class shareholding in the AWB.

Mr Stewart said the WAFarmers Grains Council's campaign to oppose AWB's constitutional reform to ensure ongoing grower loyalty was "fatally flawed".

"The commercial strategic alliance between WAFarmers Grains Council and Emerald Group demonstrates that A-class shares in AWB does not ensure grower loyalty," he said.

"It is time to take the agri-politics out of wheat marketing to ensure AWB is in the best possible position to offer Australian wheat growers the most competitive commercial offer this harvest. "

On Friday, WAFarmers said the results of a poll currently being run on Rural Press' Farming Online website showed growers were concerned by Mr Davis' attempts to abolish A-Class shareholders from AWB's corporate structure.

The poll asked: "Will the abolition of AWB's dual share system result in growers' interests being put second to those of the shareholders?"

At noon on Friday, the poll had 290 votes of which 69pc of respondents believed that their interests would be secondary with the abolition of the AWB's dual share system.

Mr Clauson said that the results spoke for themselves.

"While Mr Davis would try to make us believe otherwise, this poll shows that Australian grain growers are concerned at his attempts to abolish A-class grower shareholders from AWB's constitution," Mr Clauson said.

"This is a concern also held by WAFarmers which is recommending to members and grain growers generally to vote against the motion to remove Article 2 from the AWB constitution."

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READER COMMENTS

Farmer
31/07/2008 9:15:49 PM

I found it interesting to see some comments made by Gordon Davis of late. In The West Australian last Friday Mr Davis is quoted as saying "The A-class shareholder base represents a huge competitive advantage to AWB, if properly managed, ...". That's his job to properly manage it. Don’t change the constitution just to make your job easier. It is also interesting to see some of his comments in the Weekly Times where he states that the credit rating would not effect the pool price (that already has a A1+ rating). This is despite the fact that one of his main reasons for the constitutional changes is to get cheaper finance. I guess that is so that they can make more money out of the grower, not to benefit the grower. Sorry to be negative, but as yet I cant see how I as a grower will benefit from losing my rights as a grower shareholder.
WA Wheatgrower
1/08/2008 10:35:32 AM

Brendan, bit rich putting the boots into WAFarmers for moving to protect the interests of its members, while at the same time using your corporate resources to strip them of their rights as A Class Shareholders in AWB. Your outfit no longer has a mortgage on export wheatgrowers business, you are going to have to earn it and apart from the commercial aspect this needs less contempt and more respect for the views of your A Class Shareholders.

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