Wool sale shift concern

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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WAFarmers' submission to the Wool Systems Selling Review, which recommended centralised selling be based in Melbourne, deliberately intended to be controversial to promote debate within the State's industry.

The WAFarmers' submission lodged to the WSSR stated: "WA Farmers believes it makes practical sense to centralise and amalgamate the existing selling centres into sale by separation at one primary selling centre, to be based in Melbourne, Victoria."

But WAFarmers livestock policy executive officer Kim Haywood, who compiled the submission, said this was not the farm lobby group's final stance.

"People have taken it as gospel that WAFarmers wants to see selling centralised in Melbourne. That is not the case," she said.

Rather, she intentionally flagged this as a deliberately controversial preferred option to stimulate dialogue within the industry.

Ms Haywood said when the consultation process first opened, she was struggling to get interested parties to participate.

"The submission was written in a way to trigger comment. It has worked in the sense it has shaken people," she said.

The recommendation was met with concern by brokers and wool buyers, who have since started a series of meetings with WAFarmers to outline the low-cost structure and other advantages of maintaining sales in WA.

WAFarmers would also soon meet with national wool brokers such as Elders and Primaries.

Ms Haywood said WAFarmers would continue dialogue with the brokers and other members of the wool industry to explore various opportunities around rationalisation and centralised selling.

"It could work out after a proper and thorough investigation that having one wool-selling centre is the best. But that may be, for example, based in Fremantle - not Melbourne - as Fremantle is a lot closer to China than Melbourne," she said.

"There is a need to have the discussion and that has now started."

West Coast Wools managing director Luke Grant said the group of brokers and exporters who met with WAFarmers were pleased to learn centralisation in Melbourne was not the lobby group's final stance.

"It was a very positive meeting and we will continue to work together with grower organisations to ensure that prices can be maximised for growers, that the pricing structure is transparent and selling methods are effective," he said.

He said as well as West Coast Wools, other brokers and exporters who met with WAFarmers included representatives from PJ Morris, Fremantle Wool Trading, Swan Wools, Spearwood Wool Agencies and Dyson and Jones Wool Marketing. Mr Grant said his group would also endeavour to sit down with the Pastoralists and Graziers Association to ensure they were also fully informed about the advantages of maintaining wool selling in WA.

Farmers said it would work with the WA wool buyers and brokers to deliver a favourable outcome to the Wool Systems Selling Review for the State's producers.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said the WAFarmers' submission was intended to mean a closer look at the current system was necessary.

"We are looking at how WA wool brokers will be best off," Mr Parksaid.

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