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GPA, GrainGrowers ready to talk with new government

Grain Central, May 23, 2022

Anthony Albanese will be sworn in as Australia’s Prime Minister today following Saturday’s federal election, and is pictured here with Julie Collins, who has been the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture. Photo: Julie Collins MP

GRAIN Producers Australia (GPA) says the Australian Labor Party (ALP) victory in Saturday’s federal election presents an opportunity to engage in renewed discussions on key policy priorities for the Australian grains industry.

GPA chair and Western Australian grain producer Barry Large said GPA now welcomed the opportunity to work with the incoming government and its ministers handling agriculture, trade and transport to ensure grower views were central to their plans and policy-development agendas.

“We congratulate Anthony Albanese and his team on their victory at yesterday’s election, where Australian voters signalled a clear appetite for change,” Mr Large said.

“When last in government, Labor delivered some important policy reforms for the grains sector and we now anticipate the opportunity, as indicated during the campaign, to discuss how we can collaborate and help solve today’s issues.”

During the election campaign, GPA wrote to each of the major parties, minor parties and independents with GPA’s policy priorities and sought commitments.

“We were greatly encouraged by the ALP’s positive response, outlining their positive plans and demonstrating that they’re willing to listen to our issues and requests,” Mr Large said.

“The incoming government’s response recognised the substantial contribution the grains sector makes to Australian agriculture, and that we’re also a major contributor to the future prosperity of regional economies, communities, Australia’s food security and export income.

“This adds to the positive engagement we’ve had with Shadow Agriculture Minister Julie Collins and other members of the ALP.”

Mr Large said GPA also welcomed the new Prime Minister’s leadership and commitment to work with all governments and key stakeholders such as GPA, to fix problems and create a better future for Australian agriculture.

“Labor’s recognition of the importance of maintaining a thriving grains sector and a commitment to listen to our members to achieve this continued growth is very encouraging.”

GPA southern director and Victorian grower Andrew Weidemann said record returns from last harvest meant it was an ideal time now in new policy development and initiatives to boost the industry’s sustainability and economic growth.

“GPA will ensure our state and grower members are at the forefront of positive engagement with the new government to deliver the policy support we need to achieve these broader outcomes,” Mr Weidemann said.

According to Mr Weidemann, GPA is expecting to meet with the new government to discuss serious concerns about competition issues in the Australian grains market.

“This is spearheaded by GPA’s key policy request for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to conduct a market study of the grains supply chain.

“This can provide independent analysis and reforms to help resolve lingering competition issues impacting growers,” he said.

“As well as the market study, Labor has also expressed an interest in discussing the merits of GPA’s calls for a high-level strategic analysis of the grains supply chain to identify ways of delivering investment in infrastructure to reduce grain-freight costs.”

GPA’s election policy document called for a National Roundtable of grains industry stakeholders, expert analysts and government officials, to be held within 100 days of the next government being formed, to engage on these competition matters and develop a pathway to address these concerns.

GPA also called for these processes to be used to inform and consider the viability of implementing an independent, effective mechanism to oversight and monitor pricing for grain producers, to improve transparency.

Mr Large said GPA also wanted to acknowledge and thank the outgoing Coalition Government for its support of grain producers and industry.

He said GPA will continuing engaging positively with representatives of the Liberals and Nationals in Opposition.

“GPA also acknowledges the significant influence of independents and minor parties at this election.

“We also look forward to engaging with them more and discussing our issues, as part of our ongoing work advocating for growers and our communities,” he said.

Key headings in GPA’s 2022 federal election policy priorities:

  • Increase supply of skilled workers on grain farms;
  • Better digital connectivity to boost farm productivity;
  • ACCC to conduct study of Australian grain markets to optimise competition;
  • Increase government investment in local manufacturing initiatives;
  • Grow export trade and market access for Australian grains;
  • High-level strategic analysis/investment to reduce grain-freight costs;
  • Increased focus on preventative biosecurity measures to protect Australian grains;
  • Improved access and application for agricultural pesticides and technology;
  • Remove restrictive grains industry red tape and costs;
  • Improved independent oversight of grain levies;
  • Strategic taxation reforms to optimise farm resilience and production;
  • Sharpen grain farm and community focus of sustainability and resilience programs.

GrainGrowers

Australia’s other major grain lobby group, GrainGrowers, has also congratulates the ALP on its election win, and said it looked forward to working with the new government to capitalise on opportunities in the grains sector.

“We would like to congratulate Prime Minister Albanese and his team and are excited to be able to work together on some of the big issues affecting our growers at the moment including climate change and ensuring robust and regional communities can continue to thrive,” GrainGrowers chair Brett Hosking said.

“Having been in regular contact with Julie Collins in her role as Shadow Agriculture Minister, I know she was keen to listen and understand some of the potential opportunities for our grains sector to continue to grow and serve the Australian economy.

“I am looking forward to working with the next Minister of Agriculture when appointed and being able to focus on outcomes that will benefit our growers which in turn, benefits all Australians through food security and thriving communities.”

Like GPA, GrainGrowers is also keen for supply chain and competition issues in the grain industry to be examined.

“We look forward to continuing our discussions with the new government on a market inquiry of the grains supply chain and also investment opportunities into research and development that will continue to ensure growers can manage climate variability and continue to be conscientious stewards of the land.”

During the election campaign, GrainGrowers connected with candidates across all cropping electorates and looks forward to continuing the important discussions with those who have been elected.

“We look forward to continuing to work with all parties on tacking the challenges and capitalising on the significant opportunities the work of Australian growers has for our economy and country.”

Source: GPA, GrainGrowers

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