GPA chair steps down

22 Jan, 2013 03:00 AM
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PETER Mailler has stepped down as chairman of Grain Producers Australia (GPA) to concentrate on operating his family farming business.

Current GPA southern director and R&D spokesman Andrew Weidemann has been appointed the representative body’s interim chairman. Mr Mailler’s departure has been softened by the addition of two new board members, with Andrew Earle and Luke Arbuckle filling two casual vacancies for GPA’s northern directors.

Mr Mailler said the two new directors would provide a welcome injection of fresh blood onto GPA’s board of management, along with Mr Weidemann’s leadership elevation.

Mr Earle, aged in his mid-40s, is grain, cotton and cattle producer operating on the Queensland and NSW border, with previous experience on the AgForce Queensland grains committee. Aged in his mid-20s, Mr Arbuckle is a grain and cattle producer in southern Queensland with a strong family background in agri-politics and business leadership experience.

Mr Mailler made his departure decision public this week after the GPA board formally accepted his resignation and filled the two northern region vacancies.

“Initially I took on a role to help develop a representative model for the grains industry with a six-month commitment,” his resignation letter said.

“I had no intention or particular aspiration in regards to an agri-political career beyond establishing a functional national body. I am satisfied that GPA is a functional model for representation of the production sector and I remain committed to its success.”

Mr Mailler said GPA demonstrated value to growers and industry during last year’s heated debate over Wheat Exports Australia’s (WEA) future and the future of wheat export marketing regulations.

The conclusion of that debate - when the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment (WEMA) Bill was passed signalling the end of the WEA, rather than its expansion - triggered his resignation decision.

Mr Mailler said GPA had also proved it was representing the nation’s 27,000 grain growing entities effectively, through its ongoing oversight of the GRDC’s annual $140 million R&D budget, under provisions in the PIERD Act, and its plant health and bio-security responsibilities.

He said GPA had fought hard to achieve legislative concessions, like the inclusion of wheat stocks information provision on the WEMA Bill, which have also contributed to growers’ production and bottom lines “significantly”.

Mr Mailler said he left the GPA board in good shape and has “great confidence” in his replacement, Mr Weidemann.

“It is encouraging that through the recent wheat export marketing debate, in spite of the highly publicised grower disunity, there was in fact demonstrable and strong solidarity amongst producers that brought together a majority of frontline state representative bodies.

“This core group collectively accounts for a clear majority of representation of the production sector in terms of number of producers and volume of production and legitimately claimed to represent the production sector nationally through the GPA process.”

Mr Mailler was GPA’s inaugural chairman after it replaced the Grains Council of Australia as the nation’s peak representative grains body in August 2010.

In a frank interview with Fairfax Agricultural Media last year, Mr Mailler estimated he’d been absent from his personal core farming duties for more than 200 days in two and a half years, coming at a cost of about $200,000.

He said it was now the right time to step down and focus on running his family farm just south of the Queensland border near Goondiwindi.

Mr Mailler said longer-term challenges remained for GPA, and state farming organisations (SFOs) and grains industry members had some tough decisions to make about the future of national grower representation.

He expressed disappointment that the National Farmers Federation had placed short-term financial gain ahead of broader grower interests by allowing GrainGrowers to join the lobby group’s commodity council in late 2011, and “short-circuited” other processes designed to reach agreement on a unified peak national body.

He said that move destabilised the national representative organisation’s role and only added to the unhealthy level of industry division and politics.

“If they don’t want GPA to do the job that’s fine but it’s time to make a decision so we can all move on,” he said.

“My personal belief is that GPA is the right vehicle for the industry.

“GPA isn’t perfect and still has some growing and evolution to go through … but ongoing division in the grains industry will only compromise growers’ political influence in future and that’s our biggest challenge.”

Mr Mailler said SFOs needed to decide how they wanted to be represented and how to make that process work.

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Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

jed
22/01/2013 7:11:51 AM

The old saying about abandoning a sinking ship. GPA has stopped looking for new members some time ago and at last vaige report only had 120 members yet they hold the RO which lets them contol all our levy payments and how there used plus plant health Australia. Talk about another Labor mess how can such an unaccountable bunch be given so much power over hard workin levy paying growers. Time to give the NFF grains group a chance and stop throwing stones at it like Mailler. At least all the states are represented not like GPA. Look at how they elect themselves? jobs for the boys.
x
22/01/2013 9:17:36 AM

The bulk of Aus Grain Growers do not recognise ,belong to or accept the GPA as their industry representitive body. At least GGL are dealing with some basic issues eg: Wheat min ha/l wt . NFF are basically irrelevant to most Growers. There is not room for multiple representation in Aus. Its time all parties locked themselves in a room and stay there until we have a unified body
busy body
22/01/2013 9:28:27 AM

I'm not so sure Mailer would have resigned if WEA had been retained and its charter expanded. Publically the GPA & WEA relationship was close, both trying to secure their futures with a permanent and potentially increasing revenue stream. Oh and of course the lure of power...bullet dodged!
BC
22/01/2013 3:47:55 PM

Congratulations to Peter for his tireless effort to try and achieve a representative body for grain growers irrespective of its final mix and composition - a pity a few more people were not as magnaminous in attitude, spirit and time
PT
23/01/2013 5:30:36 AM

Thank you for trying to unite a grain industry. PT
Boris
23/01/2013 9:32:52 AM

National Representation will never work, it is nothing more than socialist mantra. The West can finally more away from Eastern influence in regards to grain. Lets face it our interests are not aligned and never will be. Mailer, Weiderman, Grain Growers ect are only interested in political machinations, cutting deals, status and filtering any opinion out that does not fit their dominance agenda. The West is only interested in good commercial outcomes and will be a great example of what can be achieved without national grain politics.
Aaron
23/01/2013 5:32:27 PM

Bingo Boris. Couldn't have said it better myself.
who cares
21/02/2013 8:22:22 PM

rats... ships... sinking

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