| ||Neat Domestic Trading Vs AWB & AWBI|| ||
Neat Domestic Trading Pty Ltd Vs AWB Limited & AWB (International) Limited
AWB Limited's Managing Director, Mr Andrew Lindberg stated the article in the Australian Financial Review today of the pending appeal by NEAT Domestic Trading to the High Court significantly overstates the effect of the issue at stake in the case.
“The ‘single desk’ means that AWB (International) Ltd has the sole statutory power to export wheat without need for consent from the Wheat Export Authority, and that any other bulk export of wheat requires the consent of AWB (International) Ltd. The existence of these statutory powers is not under challenge in the current High Court appeal.”
“The statutory permit and consent system has been put in place so that individual action does not result in a detrimental effect on the overall market for Australian export wheat, and operates in the best interests of the vast majority of Australian wheat growers” said Mr Lindberg.
The Government has approved the continuation of the single desk and permit system, and has specifically not accepted the recommendations of the National Competition Policy Review Committee that the next review of the single desk in 2004 should include national competition principles.
AWB (International) Ltd supports flexible export arrangements where the single desk for Australia's wheat is not compromised.
BACKGROUND TO HIGH COURT APPEAL
Neat Domestic Trading Pty Ltd (NEAT) was granted leave to appeal to the High Court on 31 May 2002. NEAT seeks to judicially review certain decisions of AWB (International) Limited (AWBI) pursuant to section 57 of the Wheat Marketing Act 1989 (the Act). The decisions relate to AWBI’s refusal to approve NEAT’s applications to the Wheat Export Authority (WEA) for consent to the bulk export of durum wheat. NEAT applied on six separate occasions between November 1999 and February 2000. The case is limited to the question whether AWBI properly dealt with those applications.
NEAT seeks to have the High Court set aside AWBI’s decisions on the grounds that AWBI made its decisions by applying a policy without regard to the individual merits of NEAT’s case. NEAT commenced the original action in March 2000 in the Federal Court against AWB Limited, AWBI and WEA. AWB and AWBI successfully defended the case at first instance and on appeal to the Full Bench of the Federal Court. The Full Bench was unanimous in its dismissal of NEAT’s claims.
NEAT now seeks declarations from the High Court that AWBI’s decisions were unlawful and void. The WEA is no longer a party to the proceedings. The case originally involved a claim for damages by NEAT under the Trade Practises Act 1974. The appeal currently before the High Court does not include a claim for damages.