Potato deregulation rejected

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Peter Evans
Camera IconPeter Evans Credit: The West Australian

The Potato Marketing Corporation has accused the Economic Regulation Authority of putting free-market ideology ahead of facts in a landmark report into the WA economy.

PMC chief executive Peter Evans hit out at the ERA as it prepares to deliver a final report on microeconomic reform to Treasurer Mike Nahan next month.

The PMC is fighting for its survival after the ERA's draft report said it should be abolished through the repeal of legislation controlling the potato industry, including the Potato Marketing Act of 1946.

Mr Evans said there was a lack of due process, stunning omissions and a lack of objectivity in the ERA report.

He also took a swipe at ERA chairman Lyndon Rowe and his former role as boss of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the only organisation to make a negative submission about the regulated industry.

Mr Evans said the ERA ignored pricing data from industry research leader Fresh Logic, a WA Seed Potato Producers submission which backed the PMC and other relevant evidence.

"This selective use of material by the ERA is at best misleading, at worst deceptive," he said in a letter to Mr Rowe.

Mr Rowe strongly defended the work of the ERA and the objectivity of its governing body which includes Mr Rowe, Steve Edwell and Professor Stephen King.

"When doing these inquiries passions get raised and sometimes people want to play the man rather than the facts," Mr Rowe said.

"The ERA's challenge is to look beyond passions and at facts. If we have got our facts wrong and the PMC can convince us we have got our facts wrong, then we'll change our mind."

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

Sign up for our emails