Appeal for Grain Express

Countryman

CBH has lodged an appeal with the Australian Competition Tribunal in a bid to retain Grain Express. The move follows a decision by the national competition watchdog last month to revoke the exclusive dealing notification for the contentious scheme.

It also means that other grain players which have their sights set on capitalising on grain freight movements in WA may have to cool their heels a little longer, pending the outcome of the appeal.

CBH chairman Neil Wandel said CBH remained of the strong view that Grain Express in its present form provided WA growers and the grain industry with the most efficient grain logistics system possible without substantially lessening competition in the market for grain transportation services.

“We have the evidence to prove this and we also consider our prospects of success at an appeal make it worth pursuing, ” Mr Wandel said.

“As we have said repeatedly, our determination to try to retain Grain Express for growers is not because we are trying to protect an inefficient system or to avoid competition. It is because we genuinely believe the current bundled system delivers more efficiency and benefits to growers and the industry than having multiple marketers co-ordinating grain transport from our up-country receival sites to port.

“Grain Express provides security of volume to our rail and road transport providers and therefore enables CBH to negotiate hard to keep overall transport costs as low as possible.

“It also allows us to co-ordinate the clearing of stacks and sites in one movement, reducing handling, equipment, fumigation costs and the risk of insect resistance to fumigants.

“And all of this is being done by a co-operative controlled by growers. This means it is done at cost with any surpluses from grain freight rebated directly to growers rather than to others intent on making profits from transport arbitrage.”

Mr Wandel acknowledged the appeal process would inevitably involve more cost and continued distraction for the business.

Grain Express was due to be scrapped from May 1 next year.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails