WAFarmers backs CBH claims

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

WAFarmers president Dale Park has weighed into the stoush between CBH chairman Wally Newman and Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook, accusing the State's second- largest farm lobby group of a campaign to destabilise the co-operative.

Mr Park made the comments this week after a war of words between Mr Seabrook and Mr Newman broke out last week in the wake of Mr Newman's resignation from the PGA.

Last week, Mr Seabrook hit back at accusations by Mr Newman that the PGA had cost growers millions of dollars by "orchestrating a campaign to undermine the $3 billion co- operative and lobbying for its corporatisation", which he said was unrepresentative of the majority of growers' views.

In a letter to _Countryman _, Mr Seabrook said the PGA had always been "about putting dollars back into growers' pockets".

He said the PGA had also helped growers by lobbying hard to deregulate the wheat market, which had only ever benefited growers, and challenged Mr Newman to back up his statement that the organisation had cost growers millions of dollars.

Mr Park said the PGA's opposition to CBH seeking an exemption to the Government's port access code was proof of how the PGA had cost the State's growers money.

In its submission to the Government, CBH stated that the removal of regulation would have a financial impact on its growers.

"This will immediately reduce around $1 million in direct costs from CBH per annum in ensuring compliance with the access regulation, as well as reducing considerable opportunity costs arising from the regulatory inertia and delays associated with access regulation," the submission said.

Mr Park claimed the PGA's ideological opposition to a grower-owned co-operative led to it lobbying the Government to deny a tax exemption to the port access code, despite deregulation being in the best interest of the State.

WA is the country's biggest exporter of grain, shipping about 90 per cent of its annual crop overseas.

Mr Park said the issue was about "the opportunity costs of regulatory inertia and delays".

"We basically mean that further regulation and the drawn-out capacity allocation approvals process creates uncertainty in the port access capacity market and provides incentive for marketers to seek alternatives for port capacity either by building their own (replicating our system) or going to a competitor," he said.

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