AT LEAST one State farming organisation will be pushing for changes to port ownership in a bid to prevent access issues in the post-deregulation wheat market.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has called for submissions on plans lodged by GrainCorp, ABB and CBH for access to port terminal services for bulk wheat exports next harvest.
The undertakings relate to 17 export terminals across the country including Geelong and Portland.
Workable access arrangements need to be in place by October 1 for the trio to retain their accreditation to export wheat under the new system.
South Australian Farmers Federation (SAFF) Grains chairman Michael Schaefer said SAFF believed port access was the most important issue currently facing the grains market.
“SAFF thinks that the monopoly at the ports needs to be changed - at the least a change of ownership to avoid potential discrimination,” Mr Schaefer said.
“In layman’s terms, there probably needs to be a change of ownership – marketers cannot also be in charge of the port.
“What we would like to see is a company running the ports and storages and that makes a profit doing that and not also being involved in marketing, where you run the risk of cross-subsidising a business stream.”
Mr Schaefer said SAFF would be fighting for equal access being formally acknowledged.
“We’re not saying any marketer has been penalised in terms of not getting access to port, but at present there is the possibility that they can.”
*Extract from full report to appear in Stock & Land, May 14.
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