Wheat reform Bill passed
The Rudd Government has passed legislation to overhaul the bulk wheat export marketing system.The reform honours an election commitment, giving Australian wheat growers the right to choose who exports their produce for the first time in 60 years.
The House of Representatives today accepted the amended Bill passed by the Senate last week, clearing the way for the new bulk wheat export marketing system to be in place by 1 July 2008.
The reformed system is designed to provide new opportunities for growers and the development of competitive export markets, while also providing appropriate protections.
An industry regulator, Wheat Exports Australia, will administer a wheat export accreditation scheme, with the power to grant, vary, suspend or cancel that accreditation.
Applicants operating bulk grain port terminals must provide access to other exporters, by entering arrangements to be overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from October 2009.
The Rudd Government will commit up to $9.3 million over three years to assist with the transition, including for grower information sessions, publication of market data and technical market support grants.
A Productivity Commission review will now commence before 1 January 2010 and report no later than 30 June 2010, following a Senate amendment to bring the review date forward by 12 months.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke thanked the industry groups and individuals who contributed to the consultation process and helped to design the new system. “This major economic reform represents the start of a new era in an iconic Australian agricultural industry,” he claimed. “It delivers on an election commitment and concludes months of detailed consultation on exactly how the new system should work. The passing of the Bill gives growers certainty for the current wheat crop, which will be harvested from October.””We will continue to help growers learn about the new system and publish market data to help farmers adapt,” Mr Burke added.
The new legislation will result in AWB losing their monopoly on wheat exports.
Anyone with questions about the new system can call (02) 6202-3400 (for the current Export Wheat Commission, which will become Wheat Exports Australia).