Grain Producers Australia (GPA) wants to see action in terms of wheat export regulation rather than further empty reviews after the Federal Government admitted the recommendations from the previous review into the Wheat Port Code six years ago would not be implemented.
The government has called for submissions to a new review into the Wheat Port Code, currently scheduled to sunset on October 1 next year unless the government decides to continue the scheme, with GPA chairman Barry Large saying grain growers nationally had been let down by government inaction.
He called on political leaders to listen to grower concerns when deciding on reforms to the code, which is designed to protect fair and equitable port access for all grain exporters.
Mr Large said growers had been let down by the failure to implement the reforms recommended in the last review, which started six years ago.
"A report on the first review was released in 2018 which made 12 recommendations for government to consider on how the Wheat Port Code could be improved with some technical amendments, including extending it to cover all grains," he said.
"Two years later in October 2020, the Australian Government finally responded, supporting 11 of the review's 12 recommendations, but it does not look like any of the recommendations will be brought in.
"The discussion paper released recently says that implementation of these improvements was delayed by the 2022 federal election and change of government."
Mr Large said agriculture minister Murray Watt had determined that due to the significant time lag since the first review that the recommendations may be out of date and that a second review of the Code was required.
He savaged the lack of action.
"These delays are simply not good enough, GPA would expect, as would all growers and stakeholders, that if we're going to take time out to make our views known then government will actually follow through and finish the job."
However, government did win approval for its decision to extend the feedback process until farmers have more time to collate submissions after harvest.
GPA southern director, Andrew Weidemann, said the January 31 extended deadline would help farmers who would be busy with harvest late in the calendar year, but added this would mean nothing if the government did not follow through on its statement that stakeholder feedback will help determine the Code's future role and operation.
"Growers and industry can be justifiably cynical that the time and energy we contribute again to this review process that's designed to make business improvements which increase productivity and sustainability, will be a total waste of time - but we're happy to be proven wrong," he said.
GPA's submission to the first review supported the Code's continuation, with improvements to help protect growers and market operations, with improved transparency and accountability measures.
The Wheat Port Code is the arrangement to regulate bulk terminal service providers to ensure exporters have fair and transparent access to Australia's 31 port terminal services.
In its call for submissions the government asked interested parties to answer three major questions
- What effect has the Wheat Port Code had?
- Is the Wheat Port Code still necessary?
- If it is still necessary, could the Wheat Port Code be improved?